Despite the abundance of Massachusetts coastline that serves as a backdrop for Leaving Lucy Pear, readers should be warned that Anna Solomon’s novel has nothing in common with your typical summer beach read.
Solomon’s story begins in 1917, when Beatrice Haven—an unwed, albeit wealthy, young Jewish mother—makes the heartbreaking decision to abandon her infant daughter beneath a pear tree. The baby, named Lucy Pear, is quickly rescued by Emma Murphy, an impoverished Irish Catholic who already has her hands more than full trying to feed, clothe and care for a growing family of her own. Lucy is thrust into a world far removed from that of her birth family, but Solomon avoids clichés proclaiming the nobility and selflessness of the poor. Industrialists have grown rich on profits hewn from the broken bones and spirits of the working class, and Solomon’s nuanced story depicts the catastrophe that results when these two disparate spheres collide—both in the larger world, and through the lens of Lucy’s experience with the two women who love her.
Spanning the Great War and Prohibition and deftly delving into the social issues of the time, Leaving Lucy Pear is the perfect choice for readers who appreciate the rigor and richness of literary fiction.