Lucy A Novel

Jamaica Kincaid

Farrar, Straus and Giroux



Trade Paperback

176 Pages



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Lucy, a teenage girl from the West Indies, comes to North America to work as an au pair for Lewis and Mariah and their four children. Lewis and Mariah are a thrice-blessed couple—handsome, rich, and seemingly happy. Yet, almost at once, Lucy begins to notice cracks in their beautiful façade. With mingled anger and compassion, Lucy scrutinizes the assumptions and verities of her employers' world and compares them with the vivid realities of her native place. She has no illusions about her past, and neither is she prepared to be deceived about where she presently is.

At the same time that Lucy is coming to terms with Lewis's and Mariah's lives, she is also unravelling the mysteries of her own sexuality. Gradually a new person unfolds: passionate, forthright, and disarmingly honest. In Lucy, Jamaica Kincaid has created a startling character possessed with adamantine clearsightedness and ferocious integrity—a captivating heroine for our time.


Praise for Lucy

"Beautifully precise prose . . . It leaves the reader with the unforgettable experience of having met a ferociously honest woman on her own uncompromising terms."—Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times

"A graceful, complex narrative that is at the same time about sexual awakening, the construction of identity out of the scraps at hand, the elaborate misunderstandings that can arise from different cultural assumptions, and the essentially harrowing nature of love . . . Kincaid has a deep understanding of shifts in meterological and emotional climates."—The Chicago Tribune

"Cool and fierce . . . The toughness and elegance of Kincaid's writing is all that one could want . . . Lucy's story is the discovery of all that is available to her. Not only sex, but friendship, treachery, solitude and self-expression."—Susanna Moore, The Washington Post Book World

"Brilliant . . . Lucy confirms Ms. Kincaid as a both a daughter of Bronte and Woolf and her own inimitable self."—The Wall Street Journal

"A furious, broken-hearted gem of a novel . . . Part of the richness of this book is the way we come to see, as Lucy struggles to do, the connections between those of us who have too much and those who will never have enough—and between 'a sentence for life' (what can't be changed in the self) and that which can be wrestled with and, at least, understood."—The San Francisco Chronicle

"Sensuous and funny, by turns compassionate and cruel; her eye is never wrong."—Mary Gordon

"Vivid, true and necessary . . . Lucy is transparent, like one of those models of the human body where everything is visible: bones, muscles, veins, lymph and digestive systems, and the organs. Everything except the soul, of course. But in Lucy, transparency is the soul. That, and anger."—The Los Angeles Times

"An angry heroine in the tradition of Virginia Woolf's Lily Briscoe, Lucy experiences life as a long rainy weekend, clouded by ambivalence and streaked with threatening glimmers of future happiness. Her story, told in the calm, repetitive manner of a fairy tale, yet taut with the tensions of controlled anxiety, describes, like To the Lighthouse, the process of one woman's dissolution and another's self-invention."—Village Voice Literary Supplement

"Lucy's voice is stunning, lit up with brilliant, exhilarating rage . . . She is a captivating heroine, fighting for autonomy with a heart being strangled by its own bitterness. The language is subtly musical and engaging, animated by an unflinching locution."—The Philadelphia Inquirer

"Austere and beautiful . . . Lucy is the perfect vehicle for Kincaid's complex blend of toughness and vulnerability, cold insights about class and color cut through with a sun-warmed sense of mother and place."—Kirkus Reviews

"Spellbinding . . . Packed with fresh metaphor . . . In prose that moves as gracefully as sea grass in a tidal pool, Lucy's consciousness fluently undulates between her present and her past."—The Christian Science Monitor

"Kincaid has crafted [Lucy] with a spare elegance that has brilliance in its very simplicity. Lucy's is a haunting voice, and Kincaid's originality has never been more evident."—Publishers Weekly

Reviews from Goodreads



  • Jamaica Kincaid

  • Jamaica Kincaid was born in St. John's, Antigua. Her books include At the Bottom of the River, Annie John, Lucy, A Small Place, The Autobiography of My Mother, My Brother, My Garden (Book), Mr. Potter, Talk Stories, a collection of New Yorker writings, and My Favorite Plant, a collection of writings on gardens which she edited. In 2000 she was awarded the Prix Fémina Étranger for My Brother. She lives with her family in Vermont.

  • Jamaica Kincaid Copyright Kenneth Noland