'Love and Summer': William Trevor's tale of a fleeting affair
In "Love and Summer," octogenarian Irish author William Trevor pens a brief jewel of a novel about a love affair in a small Irish town.
Special to The Seattle Times
"Love and Summer"
by William Trevor
Viking, 212 pp., $25.95
At 81, Irish author William Trevor ("Felicia's Journey," "The Story of Lucy Gault") knows something about autumn. But his jewel-like new novel, "Love and Summer," takes place during a fine summer, telling of a love affair that must fade like September sun.
In the Irish town of Rathmoye (a place that had sprung up "for no reason that anyone knew or wondered about"), Ellie is married to a kind yet distant farmer, a man hollowed by past tragedy. A convent-raised orphan, she knows little about love — until an encounter with a stranger: Florian, a free-spirited photographer who's settling the affairs of his late parents and leaving the rural life behind.
Ellie falls in love, in a way that this romantic young woman didn't even know she'd longed for; the more practical Florian feels great tenderness for her, yet knows he must leave. Will Ellie, now awakened, go with him? Or will she stay with her husband, haunted by a lost passion? "He [Florian] would go and that he was gone would be her first thought every morning, just as her first thought now was that he was here."
Their romance, and Ellie's eventual decision, take place before the curious eyes of the town, where nothing goes unobserved. 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 is the movie critic for The Seattle Times.
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