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The Complete Tales of Lucy Gold

Kate Bernheimer

Publication Year: 2011

As a child, Lucy dreams of talking fairies and lives contentedly in the wooded suburbs of Boston; she grows up to be a successful animator of fairy-tale films. Or does she? She claims at moments to be a witch in the woods.
Like her sisters, who appeared in Bernheimer’s first two novels (The Complete Tales of Ketzia Gold and The Complete Tales of Merry Gold), Lucy has a secret, but she is unable to fasten onto anything but brightness. Novelist Donna Tartt writes, “Lucy’s particular brand of optimism, blind to its own shadow, is very American—she is innocence holding itself apart so fastidiously that it becomes its opposite.”
This novel is a perfect end to the Gold family series, and the perfect introduction, for new readers, to Bernheimer’s enchanting body of work.

Published by: The University of Alabama Press

Cover Page

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p. 1-1

Front Matter

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pp. 2-11

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Chapter One: The Golden Key

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pp. 1-2

One winter day, when the ground outside my cottage was covered in snow, I went into the forest to bring back some wood. I loaded the wood onto a sled. I was so cold, I thought I would make a fire and sit beside it a while before I went home. No one waited for me in the cottage, apart from the dear spiders and mice. ...

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Chapter Two

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pp. 3-5

Under the bed, in a worn cardboard shoebox, lies a stuffed monkey with a pink and smudged face, and a pink satin ribbon taped onto one ear. The monkey wears a pink plastic helmet and used to hang from the ceiling tied to a rope. Lucy Gold, the youngest of the four children, got the monkey from Ketzia, who got it from Merry. ...

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Chapter Three - Pennies, Nickels, and Dimes

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pp. 6-10

I had the birds, who told me the weather, and I had my rooms. When I first moved to the forest, I had denounced everything else. So I often sat at the window listening to the birds and the wind and the snow falling down from the sky. That is all I desired. ...

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Chapter Four

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pp. 11-13

At the age of five she wrote a letter to Mr and Mrs Gold. It read, “Thank you for your cooperation. No Gifts or Contributions.” The phrases had been painstakingly copied (it took several hours) from a letter she found on Mrs Gold’s desk from the Temple, inviting her to either a meeting, a funeral, or a bat mitzvah. ...

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Chapter Five - Things Can Always Get Worse

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pp. 14-17

Too grateful for a happy childhood to ask my parents for money, I stood in line to receive free supper downtown. (At the time I didn’t realize that one could rummage for berries on bushes or bake bread out of dirt. And now I understand that fairies choose to live simply on air.) ...

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Chapter Six

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pp. 18-19

Of the four Gold children, Lucy was the most beautiful— and the easiest of the three sisters to like. She was never angry or sad. One could describe her as airy. When the children would play together on rainy Saturdays— indoor bowling, paint-by-the-numbers, ovenbaked glass ...

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Chapter Seven - Good Lucy

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pp. 20-25

I was considered good-tempered when young, and my parents appreciated this in a house full of irrational children. My oldest sister was mean; my next-oldest was sad; and my brother was, you might say, slow to develop. It was left to me to be inoffensive—easily done as I considered life to be simply enchanting. ...

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Chapter Eight

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pp. 26-28

And so one object she particularly admired was neither a book nor a toy. Rather, it was a box with a spine like a book. Inside of the box resided one eensy doll. The doll had a cloth body with stuffing, and a china head. The spine of the box read A Doll’s Book. When you opened the cover, you revealed plastic with three little crannies: ...

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Chapter Nine

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pp. 29-31

At Triple E, as the wooded farm became known when the sign Eggs, Perennials, & Etcetera was hit by lightning that toppled the P, I had a very good job. I had lived in the woods for several years without gainful employment, making my way with what I could find for free. ...

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Chapter Ten - “Friendly Animals”

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pp. 32-43

A little orphan girl sat spinning at the foot of the ramparts, when suddenly a grass snake crawled out of a crack in the wall. Quickly she spread out her blue kerchief beside her, the kind that snakes love to sit on. When the snake saw that, it turned around and vanished, but soon came back, ...

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Chapter Eleven

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pp. 33-34

Oh Christmas tree, oh Christmas tree, how are thy leaves so verdant, Lucy sang as she placed strands of tinsel one by one, one by one, on the branches. In the brown den with its brown curtains and beige rug, the green tree glowed in the corner, lit by the roaring fire Lucy’s mother had built. ...

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Chapter Twelve

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pp. 35-36

A dollmaker rarely is required to be inventive—at least the sort of dollmaker I am, who works with a paring knife and some wood. I do stray, from time to time, into apples—wizened faces to hang on string. Yet even the apples require no contribution from me. I simply read them. ...

Chapter Thirteen - Two Sisters

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pp. 37-38

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Chapter Fourteen

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pp. 39-41

In the past I worked in the most computerized environment you ever have seen. I found it so pleasing. To work every day in uniform—self-prescribed, of course, as our department was called “Creative” and others liked to express what they perceived as themselves—well, a uniform was easy for me. ...

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Chapter Fifteen - The Ladies’ Room

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pp. 42-45

When I worked at the studio I was considered a woman exceptionally skilled with stories of magic. Deeply admired for my dexterity with the uncanny, I also was praised for my intuitive logic. My position was very high: I decided on all the colors for movies. ...

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Chapter Sixteen

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pp. 46-48

The four Gold children were up in the attic at their grandparents’ house. Covered in dust, the attic was musty and hot. Its pale flowered wallpaper peeled; its floorboards creaked; dead spiders littered the corners. Lucy sat and read in the room with the sloped ceiling, where poor, slow Aunt Gimpel had slept on a cot. ...

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Chapter Seventeen - Clever Lucy and Foolish Ketzia and Merry

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pp. 49-52

My mother had three daughters and one was Ketzia the cuckoo. Ketzia was hospitalized early on in her days, leaving me home with Merry, who always ignored me. Except when Ketzia was home—then Merry showered me with affection just to make Ketzia feel bad. ...

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Chapter Eighteen

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pp. 53-55

It was evening. The dead-end was shadowed. Oaks and maples quieted down for the night; how peaceful it was in the summer evenings when the leaves slightly drooped, thirsty from a long day in the heat. If their white undersides blew in a breeze, rain would come . . . Lucy rested her chin gently in her clasped hands, ...

Chapter Nineteen - Lucy’s Ballad

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pp. 56-57

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Chapter Twenty - The Messenger of Death

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pp. 58-63

The city had been truly pleasing. It was magical and grave. The lights in the night twinkling, the people gathering, the buildings striving up toward the sky—striving toward heaven, I think. I understand that this has not been entirely disproved, at least to this date. ...

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Chapter Twenty-One - “Friendly Animals”

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pp. 64-75

Toad cries: “Hoo-hoo!” Child says: “Come on out.” The toad comes out and the child asks about her little sister. “Have you seen Red-stockings?” Toad says: “No, not I. No more than you. Hoo-hoo, hoo-hoo, hoo-hoo.”

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Chapter Twenty-Two - Lucy’s Sister Comes Back

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pp. 65-68

After Merry failed school and completed her time in the hospital, she came home for the holidays. By the time she arrived, the leaves had all fallen from the oaks and maples. ...

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Chapter Twenty-Three

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pp. 69-73

I had found this story in a grey book with a faux fur cover in the work library. We had a wonderful lending library at Magic Movies, and I found I always had it to myself. There was no one in charge of the library any longer, so no one minded when I ate my lunch at one of its old wooden tables. ...

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Chapter Twenty-Four - Merry and Lucy

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pp. 74-78

Once, for a brief time, Merry came to live in the woods with me. This was upstate, in a cold winter climate. Together we made ice wine—I had learned to ferment it myself in jelly jars. Sometimes, when we would boil the jars to sanitize them, Merry would get scalded. She almost looked happy when it happened. ...

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Chapter Twenty-Five

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pp. 79-81

The street where the grandparents lived was leafy. Old and grand. A block from the streetcars, and next-door to a School for the Deaf and a Hassidic temple, the green Colonial with its black door comfortably sat; and as you approached from the car, you could smell the mothballs from the front hallway closet. ...

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Chapter Twenty-Six

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pp. 82-84

This job keeps me light in the mind, a state that I’ve always cherished. The workload is never too much, never too little, for me; one person can easily take care of the chickens and flowers in this small woodland setting. One wood-carver can easily keep pace with the dolls for the few children who visit. ...

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Chapter Twenty-Seven - The Death of Lucy

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pp. 85-88

Once my highest assistant and I went on a hike to the sign in the Hills. She was a good assistant, and accommodated my fanciful nature quite well. It may seem surprising to you that someone like me had risen to the top ranks of Magic Movies. ...

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Chapter Twenty-Eight - The Bright Sun Will Bring Lucy to Light

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pp. 89-93

During my happy days as a figurist at Magic Movies, I would sometimes take my ideas to the company president, hoping they would catch his fancy. But it seemed he and the others in charge had little interest in princesses and witches. “Four quadrants,” they’d say. “Hit the four quadrants.” ...

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Chapter Twenty-Nine - “Anecdote”

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pp. 94-105

Once a turnip said: “I taste very good with honey.” “Go along, you boaster,” replied the honey. “I taste good without you.”

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Chapter Thirty

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pp. 95-96

Carefully gathering the newly laid gems, I marvel at their dusky colors—subtle shades, mainly, of green, blue, and brown. And yes, sweet dolly faces shine up at me, from the forest floor, as I look for new little friends to design; all I need do is look for sticks just the right size and they speak. ...

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Chapter Thirty-One - The Three Sisters

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pp. 97-98

For a long time, my sisters argued over which of them had more problems than the other. They argued and argued and neither would ever give in. Merry would be angry and cold and Ketzia would be sad and crying. And Ketzia always said over and over again that she just wanted everyone to get along ...

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Chapter Thirty-Two

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pp. 99-101

Lucy was a gorgeous child who, when she spoke, sounded to be singing a made-up nursery song, so gently and persuasively did she express her magic, and for this reason people were drawn to her “like bees to honey.” ...

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Chapter Thirty-Three

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pp. 102-103

My sisters found that menial labor quite suited them too as they aged. Merry with her job at Triple C, sewing patterns for children’s clothes, and Ketzia at Triple D, night-typing in the house of those bachelor detectives. ...

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Chapter Thirty-Four - Sisters in a Pit

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pp. 104-105

I was on my way to town to sit on a bench and admire the birds, when I met a donkey. “Lucy, where are you going?” the donkey asked me. “To admire the birds,” I answered with a sweet smile. It is always important to treat animals with kindness. “Take me with you,” said the donkey, so I climbed on his back. ...

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Chapter Thirty-Five - “The Golden Key”

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pp. 106-117

One winter’s day, when the ground lay deep in snow, a poor boy was sent into the forest with a sled to bring back wood. After gathering the wood and loading it onto the sled, he was so cold that instead of going straight home, he thought he’d make a fire and warm himself a bit. ...

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Chapter Thirty-Six

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pp. 107-109

For the first twenty summers of Lucy’s life, the Gold family rented the same kitchenette cabin at the seaside. A small white chalet with sky-blue shutters and what she remembered for many years to be a thatched roof (but was not a thatched roof) sat in a courtyard ...

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Chapter Thirty-Seven

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pp. 110-111

I was a very good doll maker, I think. I knew when to pare, when to nick, and what kind of cutting never to use. Over-cutting, I think, ruins as many dolls as it does actual girls, like my older sister. And, though I am now no longer among the living, I used to be a marvelous person. ...

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Chapter Thirty-Eight - Friendly Lucy

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pp. 112-123

When I was a child, I had a monkey-doll in a box at the end of my bed. “Hoo-hoo!” I said to the monkey. “Come on out.” The monkey came out and I asked him if he’d seen my sisters. “Have you seen them? One has pink stockings, and so does the other.” They’d gone to their music lessons and had not come home the same. ...

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Chapter Thirty-Nine - A Riddling Tale

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pp. 113-116

For a long and spectacular time when I was younger, my sisters and I were turned into flowers. Our feet nestled in soil, our bodies covered up to our necks. ...

Illustration Credits

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p. 117-117

E-ISBN-13: 9781573668217
E-ISBN-10: 1573668214
Print-ISBN-13: 9781573661591
Print-ISBN-10: 1573661597

Page Count: 127
Illustrations: 8 illustrations
Publication Year: 2011

Edition: 1st ed.