Leaving Lucy Pear begins in 1917 with Beatrice Haven abandoning the child that she has had out of wedlock under a pear tree. Ten years later, a series of events will bring Beatrice into contact with the Irish family that has raised the child, now named Lucy. This encounter will send shockwaves through the close-knit community of Cape Ann, as racism and anti-Semitism rise in a post-World War One world.
Although the premise of the novel is intriguing, it would have been ideal to read more about the stories of Bea, Lucy and Emma. Due to their close but hidden connections, their threads of narrative are engaging and suspenseful. However, the stories of the Story family distract slightly from the mystery of Lucy’s tale and her journey away from her adoptive family. The novel sometimes feels disjointed, and each aspect needs to be tied together more tightly. Despite this confusion, I did enjoy unravelling the mystery and peeling back the story’s layers to reveal the true lives of the characters. However, their fates were often left hanging, suspended in time and space. As a result, even though the characters might have achieved something they set out to do, their stories still feel somewhat unresolved.
Despite moments of confusion where the reader may wonder where some characters fit into the story and what their connections are to other characters, Leaving Lucy Pear is an enjoyable read. It is mysterious in its execution and thought-provoking in the overall fallout of the events and decisions that occur. It is a story of the human ability to love, the sacrifices we make for those we love, and why we make those sacrifices—as well as how tragedy can shape us, for better or for worse.
Leaving Lucy Pear is a book driven by character rather than plot. The roles that the characters play and the faces they present to the world are symbolic of the societal changes that occurred across the globe during the first decades of the twentieth century and the interwar period. This is a cleverly crafted literary novel and despite some moments of confusion, it is a successful interrogation of the human spirit, what people do when they are caught at a crossroads in life, and how the decisions they make can change their lives in ways they had never imagined—and not always for the better.
Ashleigh Meikle is a student, book blogger, and aspiring writer. More examples of her reviews can be found here.