Top positive review
9 people found this helpful
Very well written but the lack of much hope or joy makes for non-uplifting reading
on 11 September 2009
These stories are very well written and Trevor's reputation is deserved. My one reservation is the fact that the stories are somewhat down beat and one just longs for a story illuminated by joy and peace but alas there are none of that type in this collection. I will make some observations on each of the stories, really to try and distill down my own reactions to stories:
(I) The Dressmaker's Child: a very strange story about a bond beginning to form between a man who accidentally knocks down and kills a wild child (daughter of an off-beam mother) and the subsequent incipient relationship that begins to form betweem the man and the mother. Really not sure I understood this story.
(II)The Room: a disturbing story about a woman married to a man, who was accused but not convicted of murder and her suspicious of his part in the murder and her trying to come terms with this over many years. The story resonates and disturbs.
(III) Men of Ireland: A tramp returning from England to Ireland after 23 years and his attempt to capitalise on the scandals in Ireland by soliciting money from a retired priest through insinuating the priest had tried to press drink on him when he was a young altar boy. The priest gives in through a kind of shared shame. A disturbing story.
(IV) Cheating at Canasta: a man returning to venice in response to a wish made by his wife before dementia took hold of her. I was failry neutral about this story.
(V) Bravado: another distrubing story, this time about a lad trying to impress his girlfriend by beating another lad on the way home from a party with fatal consequents. One comes away with a sense of utter pointlessness
(VI)An Afternoon: I did not like this story at all: a young girl and a predatory young man on probation.
(VII) At Olivehill: A catholic ascendancy familiy having fallen on hard times decides to sell their farm to be converted into a golf course. This was moving - a sense of change and a sense of loss.
(VIII) A Perfect relationship: the ending of a relationship between a young woman and an older man. A kind of moving story, particularly the ending where there is no real resolution of what is causing the relationship to end.
(IX) The Children: A recently widowed man taking up with a divorced lady and their decision to marry and the impact on their repsective children - a moving story.
(X) Old flame: An elderly couple and the husband's continuing to keep in contact with a woman for whom he had once intended to leave his wife. This is a puzzling story of how a couple and can live with such duplicity and how the wife is being crushed by the husband's old attachment.
(XI) Faith: This was one of my favourites about a Church of Ireland clergy man and his dominant sister. He appears to lose his faith whilst serving his country parish while she is undimished in her dying - indeed she is given a beautifully written happy death:
"She turned away, shuddering off a convulsion as best she could, but another came and she was restless. Confused, she tired to sit up and he eased her back to the pillows. For a moment then her eyes were clear, her contorted features loosed and were calm. Batholomoew knew that pain was taken from her and that she shed, in her first moment of her eternity, he too-long gnawing discontent; that peace, elusive for a lifeime, had come at last".
Any yet the minster remains at a loss?
(XII) Folie a deux: a story about not accepting forgiveness and redemption - the killing of a dog by 2 young lads results in the apparent disintegration of one of them through the sheer horror of what he had done.
Even though it would be fair to say that the stories were indeed down beat and lacking in hope, Trevor's economic style carries one along so that one is infused with a kind of regret for lost lives.