The stunning new novel from highly acclaimed author William Trevor is a brilliant, subtle, and moving story of love, guilt, and forgiveness. The Gault family leads a life of privilege in early 1920s Ireland, but the threat of violence leads the parents of nine-year-old Lucy to decide to leave for England, her mother's home. Lucy cannot bear the thought of leaving Lahardane, their country house with its beautiful land and nearby beach, and a dog she has befriended. On the day before they are to leave, Lucy runs away, hoping to convince her parents to stay. Instead, she sets off a series of tragic misunderstandings that affect all of Lahardane's inhabitants for the rest of their lives.
Captain Everard Gault wounded the boy in the right shoulder on the night of June the twenty-first, nineteen twenty-one." So opens Trevor's latest novel, with an act of political violence: the setting is rural Ireland, the Captain's wife is English, and three youths have come, under cover of darkness, to set fire to the family house. The wounding is, as it happens, an accident -- the shot had been intended merely as a warning -- but it quickly becomes clear to the Gaults that they must leave their beloved home. Eight-year-old Lucy, however, has other ideas, and her rebellion has devastating consequences. How should the loyalties to past and future, family and country, be measured? The tragedies that befall the Gaults are difficult to bear, because no one is clearly accountable. As the author delicately probes the nature of personal and political responsibility, the reader squirms with discomfort, longing for a scapegoat and yet aware of the implications of that longing.