Wednesday, August 1, 2012
WILLIAM TREVOR'S LOVE AND SUMMER
But I'd never read any of his novels, until I found one on the sales rack at my local bookstore (yes, I know how lucky I am to have a "local" bookstore). Trevor's an Irish writer who often sets his fiction (at least in my limited experience) in the Ireland of the past, pre-Celtic Tiger and collapse. LOVE AND SUMMER is set in mid-20th Century Ireland, in the countryside, and I have to say since the day I began reading it last week to today, when I finished it, I haven't enjoyed a novel this much in a while.
His characters are so finely drawn and compelling I couldn't stop the compulsion to keep reading to find out what happens to them. And despite their limitations and the limitations of the time and place where they exist, I read it with a certainty that this time I wouldn't be left feeling let down by the bleak perspective of the characters themselves. Instead, I felt my spirit lifted by the possibilities, no matter how limited or unlikely, and I wasn't disappointed.
There's a blurb on the back of the paperback I bought that quotes a Los Angeles Times review that says in part: "no author alive is more respectful of his characters or efficient at fleshing them out." I'm convinced that is true after reading LOVE AND SUMMER. It's a fairly fast and easy read, though some Irish expressions and idiomatic "English" might cause some readers, unfamiliar with some Irish ways of using the language we share, to have to figure out from the context what's being talked about. But it won't be much of an effort, and this book was so satisfying it's worth any effort. Though for myself, I found reading it effortless and unexpectedly uplifting.