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The Second Coming of Lucy Hatch
By Marsha Moyer
William Morrow, 2002
Hardcover, $24.95 (304pp)
ISBN: 006008166X
 
 
 

There was nothing about the cool clear Texas morning that could have warned Lucy that her settled life was about to go careening off into an abyss.  She had made coffee and watched Mitchell, her husband of fourteen years take the tractor into the fields.  She stood on the back porch with her own cup and enjoyed the one hour of the day when her life still seemed to show promise.  It wasn’t until hours later that a neighbor, coming to borrow some equipment, would come to the back porch door white and shaking to say  that there had been an accident.

Lucy’s sudden transformation from respectable farmwife into grieving widow disorients her, but not nearly as badly as her realization that she couldn’t grieve all that much.  She had married Mitchell right out of high school- married him for his respectability and security, not for love.  Fourteen years later she faced his closed casket and acknowledged that she had got what she asked for -- security, but never love.

Lucy does what any young country farm wife would have done -- she goes home to her family.  Back in the small Texas town she was born in, she is still “Lucy Hatch”, her marriage a closed chapter in her life and a thing of the past.  Which suites Lucy just fine, as she starts to work on finding the girl she left behind to get married; the one whose dreams and desires were sacrificed for a roof over her head and a steady man in the house.

The only problem is, the entire town and especially her born-again mother and the local preacher, already have the next part of her life planned out as a grieving widow whose humble presence will grace the front pews and church socials for the next 40 years.  Lucy, who has come to the conclusion that she threw away the first part of her life, has no intention at the age of 34 of wasting the rest of it.  With the support of a few independent spirits like her crusty Aunt Dove and her affectionate brother Bailey, she moves out of the family home and rents a small house. But that little piece of rebellion is nothing compared to what she does next -- get herself a job driving a truck for the local florist.  And while her mother is still feeling faint over that piece of news, Lucy finds herself hooked by the local heart throb- Ash Farrell, a flashy country-western singer at a honky-tonk bar.  Less than two weeks home and Lucy Hatch has tongues wagging all over town (and more than one person has a bet going on how long before Ash Farrell’s pickup truck stays in Lucy’s driveway overnight). 

It all sounds like a steamy Texas romance, but things are rarely so simple. The Second Coming of Lucy Hatch, which is a first novel by Marsha Moyer, is much more than a girl-finds-guy story.  Lucy is a young woman trying to work out what happened to her life.  When her husband dies- painfully and violently in a farm accident- she comes up against the hard fact that not only had he never made her happy- she had never made him happy either.  It is a wounded woman overwhelmed by guilt that makes her way back home and sets the town talking.  Meyer does a good job with the character of Lucy, who easily wins the reader with her quirky sense of humor, her honesty and her vulnerability.  Moyer portrays with a sure touch Lucy’s guilt and shame and failure, and gently allows her to work through each barrier to become a whole person again. 

Most of the energy in this charming novel is spent on Lucy’s transformation back into a living, breathing human being capable of love and passion.   It is enough to carry the reader through the story, although often the detail and imagination that goes into her character is absent in the people around her.  Her mother, the town preacher, and even feisty Aunt Dove seem a little thinly drawn.   Even the gorgeous Ash Farrell occasionally sounds too good to be true.  “Don’t knock it” is what Lucy’s sister-in-law Geneva would say. Geneva is the only other character in the novel with real depth.  Happily married and lustily alive, she provides the blessing Lucy ultimately needs to allow herself to fall in love. 

Whether or not that love will last is something that the townsfolk will just have to take another bet on.  But in the meantime, everyone is talking about “The Second Coming of Lucy Hatch.” 

 

Nicki Leone
Southern Scribe Reviews
 

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