William Trevor has long been hailed as one of the greatest living writers of the short story. In this collection of twelve dazzling, acutely rendered tales, he once again plumbs the depths of the human heart. Here we meet a blind piano tuner whose wonderful memories of his first wife are cruelly distorted by his second; a woman in a difficult marriage who must choose between her indignant husband and her closest friend; two children, survivors of divorce, who mimic their parents' melodramas; a heartbroken woman traveling alone in Italy who experiences an epiphany studying a forgotten artist's Annunciation.
Trevor is, in his own words, "a storyteller. My fiction may, now and again, illuminate aspects of the human condition, but I do not consciously set out to do so". Conscious or not, he touches us in ways that few writers even dare to try.
A wonderfully affecting new collection of 12 stories by the Anglo-Irish master (Felicia's Journey, 1995, etc.), whose sympathetic portrayals of lonely, betrayed, and self-betraying people are unsurpassed by any of his contemporaries. Though Trevor disdains to raise his voice, melodrama and tragedy alike are vividly present in his careful analyses of relationships unravelling, dangers that lurk beneath the mildest and most respectable of surfaces, lifelong dreams and painstaking plans that come to nothing. His plainspoken prose and scrupulous fairness to all of his characters betoken a modesty and restraint that throw into bold dramatic relief his unjudging (one almost wants to say courteous) examinations of people who surprise us with the range and depth of their often buried emotions. The best pieces in this collection - his eighth - are on a par with Trevor's finest ever. In "After Rain," for example, a thirtyish spinster (one uses such words when discussing Trevor), on the latest of her many vacation trips to Italy, observes a painting of the Annunciation and is stimulated by it to perceive how she has, all along, been the cause of her own romantic unhappiness. In "The Potato Dealer" - one of the few stories set in Ireland - an unwed pregnant girl, married off to a dull older man, cannot conceal the identity of her baby's father and finds that, though her confession pains and burdens her patient husband, both he and she can bear the disgrace. Both "A Friendship" and "Timothy's Birthday" describe quiet acts of rebellion that will have painful long-lasting consequences. In "Gilbert's Mother" - an amazing example of Trevor's celebrated grasp of abnormal psychology - a mother who realizes that her grown son is a rapist and murderer decides she must keep his secret ("Her role was only to accept: He had a screw loose, she had willed him to be born"). Dependably brilliant work from one of Chekhov's most accomplished disciples. (Kirkus Reviews)