Jamaica Kincaid – Lucy (1990)

LucyThis novel is short, only 160 pages or so, and I devoured every word so fast that when I finished I needed to take a step back and digest. The premise is relatively simple but Jamaica Kincaid is such a vivid story teller that gradually all the layers of the story peel away an you’re reading to reveal a complex web of emotions.

Lucy is a 19-year old immigrant to America from the West Indies working as an au pair to a couple, Mariah and Lewis, and their four daughters. The story is told from Lucy’s point of view and throughout the novel you begin to understand her, her relationship to her employer Mariah and how she straddles the line between friend and employee, as well as her unresolved feelings towards her mother, who acts as a shadow on Lucy’s life throughout the novel. Despite only being 19, Lucy is cynical and mature beyond her years as she struggles to make friends in her new surroundings and watches the marriage of her employers deteriorate.

It’s a very introspective read, but also very compelling. I’m almost embarrassed to admit that I haven’t read any of Kincaid’s other works but after reading Lucy, I’m definitely going to start.

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