(Click the book cover to see on Goodreads)
Genre: Adult, Historical Fiction
Title: Leaving Lucy Pear
Author: Anna Solomon
Length: 336 pages
Publication: July 26th 2016 by Viking
Note: Penguin Random House sent me this e-book via First to Read for free in exchange for my honest review.
One night in 1917 Beatrice Haven sneaks out of her uncle’s house on Cape Ann, Massachusetts, leaves her newborn baby at the foot of a pear tree, and watches as another woman claims the infant as her own. The unwed daughter of wealthy Jewish industrialists and a gifted pianist bound for Radcliffe, Bea plans to leave her shameful secret behind and make a fresh start. Ten years later, Prohibition is in full swing and post–World War I America is in the grips of rampant xenophobia, and Bea’s hopes for her future remain unfulfilled. She returns to her uncle’s house, seeking a refuge from her unhappiness. But she discovers far more when the rum-running manager of the local quarry inadvertently reunites her with Emma Murphy, the headstrong Irish Catholic woman who has been raising her abandoned child—now a bright, bold, cross-dressing girl named Lucy Pear, with secrets of her own.
‘Leaving Lucy Pear’ is written in third person present tense and rotates among the multitude of characters in the book. Unfortunately, there is no pattern to the alteration of viewpoints. As a result, the change is quite startling and upending, acting as a distraction from the story itself.
Pacing: The book reads slowly. Numerous characters are followed and it takes time to explain who they are, where they come from, and what they want. Yet, each of them becomes intertwined throughout the book.
World: The novel is contained within a single city: Cape Ann, Massachusetts, with lots of places from the city traversed by the characters. As a result, not all of them are given full detail. However, the important places, the ones that carry heavy significance among the characters are described in full detail to provide imagery for the readers.
Writing: The writing style is full and tedious. It often rambles and slides into tangents quite frequently, causing much of the book to take longer than necessary and dulls the particular scenes.
Non-Spoilered Plot: Life has a way of bringing people together in the strangest ways. Such is the case for Emma Murphy, the woman who took in an abandoned baby when she ends up working for the woman who disowned the baby in the first place, Beatrice Haven. Yet, that baby, now a ten-year-old girl, has lost her innocence and sees how the world works. But that only makes her more inclined to know as little as possible as she tries to figure out who she truly is and where she really belongs.
Character: There are a variety of characters within this book and each one has their own dreams, goals, and fears. Yet, all of them are trapped in a life that has consequences because of the actions they’ve taken or are still unwilling to take. In this way, all of the characters are realistic, if not entirely easy to understand at all times.
Plot: Leaving Lucy Pear is more a recount of the ongoings of a small town where everyone is tied together by a young girl: Lucy Pear, rather than the epic story of a single person. In fact, without Lucy Pear being deposited into the pear garden, none of the events in later years would happen.
Josiah Story never would have enticed Emma Murphy into an affair because he wouldn’t have suspected her of infidelity previous in her life. He never would have tried to get her a job with Beatrice Haven as a means of getting Beatrice on his good side and money in Emma’s pocket. Emma Murphy would have had no reason to act the way she did around Beatrice, making her life as hard as possible. Also, Emma may never have left her husband because it seemed he was only abusing Lucy, not his actual children. Yet, all of these events transpired because of the transfer of a baby from one woman to another.
Yet, in the end, none of it made any difference because Lucy Pear found herself lost in both the house she’d grown up in and the house of the woman who gave birth to her. She wanted to get away. She knew she was different. She knew she didn’t fit in and she didn’t like standing out. Escaping to somewhere else, away from the constant reminders and the abuse, was the only way for Lucy to figure out who she was truly without all the influence of the people around her. Thus, her only option was to get away.
Honestly, I can’t quite say what the point of the story was by the end of it as it seemed to lack any traditional plot. Even with the intertwining characters and schemes and lives riddled with secrets, the story lacked direction of some sort. As a result, I leave my rating of this novel, ‘Leaving Lucy Pear’, at two stars.
Have you read ‘Leaving Lucy Pear’ by Anna Solomon? What did you think of it?
Let me know in the comments below!