Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Book Review: Leaving Lucy Pear

The premise of this story, along with the glowing endorsement by Sue Monk Kidd (author of my current audio book, The Secret Life of Bees), caused me to pick up Leaving Lucy Pear. A gifted young girl with her life ahead of her gets pregnant. Instead of sending the baby to an orphanage, she leaves the baby in a pear orchard, waiting for the pear thieves to come and hoping they'll steal away the baby along with the pears. After that, her carefully planned life falls apart and she finds herself back at her uncle's home (where she had gone to hide the pregnancy). Meanwhile, the mother who took on the abandoned baby takes a position in the uncle's home as a nursemaid. The now ten-year-old girl, named Lucy Pear (after the pear orchard she was found in), has secrets of her own.

I guess the idea of so many secrets swirling around was appealing. I didn't dislike the book, but it could have been so much better if it hadn't been so crass in parts. Of course, there's an adulterous relationship between the nursemaid and a man running for mayor (and wishing his wife would abandon her persistent pursuit of unsustainable pregnancy). Add in the supposed rape resulting in Lucy's conception, foiling the girl's desire to marry her cousin, and then a marriage of convenience to avoid any hint of further pregnancy (to a homosexual man, who - it is assumed - has no desires for children either) and you have a small picture of the depths the novel explores. Yet, I read on.

The writing was well done and the characters interesting enough. I wanted to know how and when the mother and child would be reunited and if the three women would be saved from their secrets. But, in the end, I think I wasn't fully satisfied with the story. It did take me to another world and skillfully presented historical evidence, but I just ended my reading with a wish that it had been a cleaner read with more redemption and a better ending. I don't regret reading it, but cannot say that I recommend it.

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