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Subtle yet powerful, Trevor's stories give us insights into the lives of ordinary people. We encounter a tutor and his pupil, whose lives are thrown into turmoil when they meet again years later; a young girl who discovers the mother she believed dead is alive and well; and a piano-teacher who accepts her student's serial thefts in exchange for his beautiful music.
This final and special collection is a gift to lovers of literature and Trevor's many admirers, and affirms his place as one of the world's greatest storytellers.
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By W Perry Hall on 07-01-18
William Trevor's Last Literary Gems
Trevor's mastery is not in prose or 'structure' in the literary sense of the word. He is a maestro in constructing a story that reveals some human emotion or ice-shattering effects of our homocentric interactions. One way to describe this might be that he erects a Jenga tower of some human condition nudging the reader toward an ending that takes her breath away like a) pulling out the wrong block and all falls down, or b) removing just the right one, leaving her in awe at Trevor's perfection.
Trevor's final focus, in his Last Stories, seems primarily on the deception and various varieties of betrayal, and its short- and long-term adverse effects on betrayer, betrayed and those collaterally damaged, and the harm done by one's inability to cope with disappointments flowing from high expectations. As examples, a father's betrayal by deception of a daughter who in turn attempts to betray herself by self-deception; a betrayal borne of pity of a woman without a family or friends; out of pity arises a man's betrayal of his family and an ironic lesson in the pain and cost of unrequited love; how a double betrayal by husband and best friend leads to a betrayal of self and humanity in the black heart of vengeance.
In 'Giotto's Angels,' which overlies a Dante Eighth Circle special betrayal, Trevor captures the reader with a tale (a bit allegorical possibly) of good versus evil, beauty versus ugliness.
Probably the best of the brilliant bunch is 'An Idyll in Winter,' in which a married man visits the farm estate of a girl who had fallen head over heels for him when he tutored her maybe ten years in the past. The story delves into the devastating fallout from adultery, but moreso from the girl's inability to accept that love cannot be perfect (maybe especially so for love once unrequited and for love on which a betrayal of another is built), it will not stay a winter white idyll, which leads to the biting and ironic self-rationalization: '...she only wishes the men could know that love unchanged is as it was, is there for him among her shadows, for her in rooms and places as familiar to him as they are to her. She wishes they could know it will not wither, that there'll be no long slow dying, or love made ordinary.'
Highly recommended. The literary world has lost a great one.
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