When the Lahardane sheepdogs were poisoned Lucy suggested that this dog should be a replacement for one of them, since it had never really become the O’Reillys’; but the suggestion met with no enthusiasm and within a week Henry began to train two sheepdog pups that a farmer near Kilauran had let him have at a bargain price. Although devoted to both her parents – to her father for his usually easygoing ways, to her mother for her gentleness and her beauty – Lucy was cross with them that summer because they didn’t share her affection for the O’Reillys’ dog, and cross with Henry because he didn’t either: all that, in retrospect, was what that summer should have left behind, and would have if there hadn’t been the trouble in the night.

Dose it mean: it would be better if that event had not happened and if there was no trouble they agreed with her.

Source: The Story Of Lucy Gault by William Trevor

  • This is terrible writing. I don't know what it means for "summer to leave something behind", so I wouldn't worry about it if you can't figure it out either ;)
    – gotube
    Commented Jun 12, 2021 at 4:18

2 Answers 2


It is not entirely clear to me in this excerpt, but I think that by "what that summer should have left behind" the author means that the4se things (Lucy's anger and the reasons for it) should have been forgotten or regarded as unimportant during the course of the summer, or perhaps by the end of the summer.

However the text could be read to men "what should have remained as the result of the summer" an almost opposite meaning.

"left behind" can be used to mean what remains after some event, or what has been passed by and is no longer considered significant.

Two invented examples:

Frank's persistent aversion to Jane was left behind by the fight they hd, long after the details were forgotten by both of them. (what remains)

Feelings of insecurity no longer trouble me; all that has been left behind as I learned better. (no longer important)

I have not read " The Story Of Lucy Gaul". Reading the full work or even a somewhat longer excerpt might well make it clear which meaning the author intended.

  • Lots of thanks, but I think I don't get the meaning of "was what that summer should have left behind". Dose it mean: because of the trouble had happened that summer? and the meaning of "would have" is also unclear because it is not followed by verb. I think it should be: would+have+pp Commented Nov 29, 2020 at 19:35
  • It would have been left behind if not for the 'trouble in the night' (if that trouble hadn't happened). Commented Nov 30, 2020 at 9:42

It means there was disagreement between Lucy, her parents and Henry about her affection for the O'Reilly's abandoned dog. That would not have been a problem in the present (it was what summer should have left behind), but there had been "trouble in the night", and that kept the other troubles from fading into the past.
It doesn't mean they would have agreed with her, but that the disagreement would not be so important any more.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .