William Trevor has established himself among the most celebrated authors of the past century. In 1997, he was named honorary Commander of the British Empire for his contributions to literature.
A New York Times best-seller, Death in Summer is hailed as “astonishing” by the Los Angeles Times< Book Review. Thaddeus Davenant’s wife has just died in an automobile accident, leaving him to raise their infant daughter alone. Haunted by his wife’s sudden death, Thaddeus agrees with his mother-in-law that the househould needs a nanny to help raise the child. Although she doesn’t get the job, one young woman forms an immediate, secret attachment to Thaddeus and the baby—an attachment that will eventually become dangerous.
Death in Summer is Trevor at his finest—his fluid, poetic prose and profound understanding of human nature make for an amazingly graceful novel. Simon Prebble delivers a sumptuous reading that equals the deep compassion of this remarkable book.
©1998 William Trevor (P)2000 Recorded Books, LLC
"To open William Trevor's ... novel and begin to read is to step into a rarefied world as of a perfect English garden where tea is served on a golden afternoon. It is easy to be beguiled by its harmonies and its design although after a little while once could begin to find it enclosed and confining." (The New York Review of Books, Anita Desai)
"For all the wit and charm of Death in Summer, horror stories don't get much more hair-raising than this." (Time, Paul Gray)
"Trevor is a master at furnishing realistic detail and withholding it. He knows when to suggest, when to suspend, when to mystify and when to reveal. His narrative has the turns, the hesitations, the flashes of wit and the broken configurations of dance; he is a Balanchine of fiction." (The Los Angeles Times Sunday Book Review, Richard Eder)
It has been a bad summer for Thaddeus Davenant. His wife--who he married for her money, never loved, but had come to appreciate for her kindness--has been killed in a road accident. Left alone with an infant daughter, Thaddeus advertises for a nanny, but when none of the respondents seem to be acceptable, his mother-in-law moves in to care for little Georgina. But one applicant, Pettie, surprised that she didn't get the job, becomes obsessed with the much older Thaddeus, his sad story, and his privileged lifestyle.
Although they come from two different worlds, Thaddeus and Pettie have one thing in common: an inability to love, at least in a normal way. Thaddeus's upper class parents were distant and critical while Pettie, raised in an orphanage, only knew the kind of love extended by a "Sunday uncle." Surprised by his own feelings for his new daughter, Thaddeus begins to open his heart and to feel for others, including Pettie and a former mistress who calls him to her deathbed. Pettie's obsession, however, takes them all into darker, more dangerous territory.
Trevor is a master at depicting the broad divide between the upper and lower classes as well as the depths of the human heart and the psychological effects of a loveless childhood. Part of his mastery is that he is able to unfold all this subtly, without whacking his readers over the head with a purpose and a moral. While Death in Summer may not be Trevor's best novel, it is well worth reading.
I found this hard to follow and dreadfully boring. I recently listened to the unabridged The Count of Monte Cristo and, honestly, that felt like a shorter listen. TO BE FAIR: I probably lack the ability to enjoy subtle, elliptical narratives of ordinary people. If you love Terrence Malick movies, you should probably get this. The writing is beautiful. But if you're like me, and you want stories with compelling plots and fascinating characters, you should probably pass on this.
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