The latest Advanced Reader Copy (actually an uncorrected proof obtained through a First Reads Goodreads giveaway, but I digress), this pedometer geek reader read was Anna Solomon’s Leaving Lucy Pear. This is her second novel; her debut novel is The Little Bride. This is the extended review.
Leaving Lucy Pear
by Anna Solomon
Published by Viking Books, 2016
a division of Penguin Random House
As the novel opens, a wealthy young woman, destined to go to Radcliffe as a gifted pianist, finds herself pregnant out of wedlock in 1917. Leaving the newborn underneath one of her uncle’s pear trees the night the “pear-stealers” usually appear, Beatrice (Bea) Haven hopes one of the families will claim the child as their own. She waits and watches as Emma Murphy finds the baby and rescues her, making her part of her own family.
Ten years later, the two women meet and are brought together once again through a series of coincidences. Each of the women has personal secrets to protect, but the biggest one is when Emma realizes that this woman, Bea (now) Cohn, is Lucy Pear’s biological mother. Does Beatrice know about her, and if she does, what will happen?
Set in Massachusetts during the time of Prohibition, women’s suffrage, and post-World War I, this is a novel of families and unfulfilled dreams. This is also a time of rampant xenophobia, worker’s struggles, and class distinctions (reminding this reader of what is going on even today).
The novel is literary in nature; it is a bit slow to start, and keeping track of all the characters and their relationships is, at times, difficult. After what was a story that was revealed slowly, the ending almost seemed rushed, and it took this reader a few re-reads of the last several chapters to understand all the little nuances of the story.
The title character, Lucy Pear, is a ten-year-old cross-dressing girl, who is bright and bold, doing whatever jobs she can to escape a father who is cruel. Finally, discovering her birth mother has a heart-wrenching effect upon Lucy and the whole Murphy clan, and once again, the title comes into play.
Overall, this is a story of motherhood and the sacrifices that women make for love. The author looks at fundamental relationships, that is between mothers, children, and lovers, and how they all intertwine in subtle ways.