four-and-half-stars
Bookmarks Issue: 
43-Nov-Dec-2009
user_rating: 
0

A-Love and SummerProlific Irish writer William Trevor has enjoyed a long and illustrious career since his fiction debut in 1964. He has penned numerous novels, short story collections, plays, novellas, and essays, many about rural Ireland. Recently reviewed: Cheating at Canasta ( 4.5 of 5 Stars Jan/Feb 2008); A Bit on the Side: Stories ( 4 of 5 Stars Jan/Feb 2005).

The Story: In the 1950s, Ellie Dillahan, a country girl raised by nuns, has scratched out a peaceful if meager life for herself on the farm of her much-older husband. She is comfortable with the solitude and repetitive chores until the June morning when Florian Kilderry, a charming, free-spirited photographer, bicycles into the small Irish town of Rathmoye to take pictures of local landmarks. Ellie is flattered by Florian’s attentions, and the two young lovers soon contrive to meet in remote country lanes and nearby towns, far from the prying eyes of Rathmoye. But while Florian dreams of leaving Ireland forever and Ellie wrestles with her guilt, their affair has not gone unnoticed.
Viking. 212 pages. $25.95. ISBN: 9780670021239

Boston Globe 4.5 of 5 Stars
"Trevor is at the top of his game here, and his game is better than anyone else’s. No one, save perhaps Alice Munro and Alistair MacLeod, no one writes with such clarity, subtlety, grace, and precision." John Dufresne

Los Angeles Times 4.5 of 5 Stars
"The denouement in the farmhouse kitchen—where husband and wife speak at cross-purposes, then in unison—is a masterpiece of dialogue and inflected gesture; no author alive is more respectful of his characters or efficient at fleshing them out." Nicholas Delbanco

Miami Herald 4.5 of 5 Stars
"With supple prose, he generously teases out the mysteries, beauties and follies in the quietest, most nondescript places and people. … He bestows Love and Summer with magic, starting with a death in a town where nothing happens and leaving you astonished, moved and feeling gratefully, achingly alive." Ellen Kanner

NY Times Book Review 4.5 of 5 Stars
"This new novel … is a delicate sort of drama—there is no corpse in the basement, no bomb lies hidden in any drawer—but even so, a reader will have his heart in his mouth for the last 50 pages. … Love and Summer, the latest item from his venerable suitcase, is a thrilling work of art." Thomas Mallon

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 4 of 5 Stars
"[Trevor] does not allow easy answers. What seem at first like disconnected stories or character sketches are woven together, first with only the slenderest of threads and then with more and more cord until the whole story of Ellie and her town is clearly an inseparable piece." Kathleen George

Seattle Times 4 of 5 Stars
"Trevor creates a vivid population in Rathmoye, from the 101-year-old man who defiantly ‘bought a new suit of clothes every birthday for the last ten years of his life’ to the cobbler who never labeled any of the shoes in his shop with a name (he ‘always knew’) to the spinster carefully watching to see if Ellie missteps—and ready to pick her up if she falls. It’s a lovely place to visit; I found myself wishing that the Rathmoye summer would never end." Moira Macdonald

Washington Post 4 of 5 Stars
"For those readers who have loved the generosity and beauty of Trevor’s work (he has written 27 books of fiction), Love and Summer will be one more entry into a world that is both heart-breaking and deeply fulfilling. … Trevor, also the author of The Story of Lucy Gault and Death in Summer, moves around this story with breathtaking ease; he can change point of view quickly—his narrative voice is that sure." Elizabeth Strout

Critical Summary

Trevor is a master storyteller, and Love and Summer exhibits all the hallmarks of his most luminous works: his stark and graceful prose; his profound insight into the human heart; and his hauntingly authentic characters, precisely sketched in just a few short lines. In Trevor’s provincial Ireland, every person has a story—a secret hope or a heartache—and he teases them out and weaves them together subtly and seamlessly. Gentle, naïve Ellie is the highlight of this "spare and nuanced portrayal of fragile humans dwarfed by life’s circumstances" (Philadelphia Inquirer), and while Trevor offers no easy answers or tidy endings, he provides a believable and satisfying denouement. Readers, along with the critic from the Boston Globe, will "find it hard to leave Rathmoye."