An author who has received international critical acclaim for his exquisite prose, William Trevor saw his novel The Story of Lucy Gault short-listed for the prestigious Booker Prize. Love and Summer tells the tale of Ellie Dillahan, an orphan entered into a bleak future with the man she wed. As the story unfolds, Ellie’s life is thrown into tumult by a fateful encounter with another man.
©2009 William Trevor (P)2010 Recorded Books, LLC
“What other living writer could so regularly follow his own masterpieces …with another and another?” (New York Times Book Review)
"A triumph of style and content." (The Herald)
"Marvellously written, consummately plotted. . . . One of the joys of Love and Summer is the perfection of its Irish geography and the wealth of emotions attached to it. . . . As brief and beautiful as summer itself, it is a book to be read and reread, as perfect a thing as our blemished world can offer." (The Globe and Mail)
While Trevor has crafted a story of some emotional depth here, it left me unsatisfied, and I'm not sure exactly why. It may be in part that the characters all have a strong measure of reserve about them; I never really felt that I knew them very well, or even that they would allow themselves to any kind of inner emotional lives. Ellie seems to have drifted through her life until she falls for Florian; her character is defined mainly by the phrase "I don't mind." This makes what Ellie seems to believe is love but Florian refers to as "friendship" awkward and passive (and even a bit irritating). There are other characters in the novel as well about whom I would have liked to know more (Ellie's husband, the Connulties, Orpen Wren, etc.), but they, too, come off as distant or just strange. Perhaps this is the atmosphere Trevor wanted to convey: a place so overpowered by tradition and constrained by secrets that no one feels comfortable revealing an inner life of any kind. The result is a kind of flatness, and the novel, while well written, didn't leave much of an impression on me in the end.
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