William Trevor is the chilling of the two because his characters feel real My familiarity with this Irish writer is through his short stories, many of which are magnificent character studies With Trevor, you can assume nothing anything is possible, even though the world in which it happens will be impossibly ordinary.
He writes beautifully His narrative style is careful and measured, on the traditional side in a good way He likes the present tense and he uses it unobtrusively to bring you uncomfortably close to the action.
We have two main characters in this novel Mr Hilditch the English catering manager and Felicia, the run away pregnant Irish girl Both are victims, though Hilditch is also a predator Trevor s description of them is meticulous He lays down small details beautifully and nothing is accidental Here is Hilditch The private life of Mr Hilditch is on the one hand ordinary and expected, on the other secretive To his colleagues at the factory he appears to be, in essence, as jovial and agreeable as his exterior intimates His bulk suggests a man careless of his own longevity, his smiling presence indicates an extrovert philosophy But Mr Hilditch, in his lone moments, is often brought closer to other, darker, aspects of the depths that lie within him When a smile no longer matters he can be a melancholy man What a beautiful final sentence that is When a smile no longer matters The best words in the best order it is surely than just prose.
The sinister side of Mr H is there from the start Then there s the innocent seventeen year old, ironically named Felicia, who runs away to find her boyfriend Johnny Lysaght He left without a forwarding address and she is carrying his child When Mr Hilditch gives her directions, he recognises her type immediately She is lost and she is looking for someone, carrying her whole world in two carrier bags He follows her She is indeed alone Names of other girls start to trickle through his mind What happened to them We don t know, though we are already uneasy The first seriously sinister reference is in chapter 7 The frisson of excitement that has been with him all day is charged with a greater surge now that he has spoken to the Irish girl again never before has there been a girl as close to home as this one, a girl who actually approached him on the works premises Elsie Covington cropped up in Uttoxeter, Beth in Wolverhampton, Gaye in Market Drayton Sharon was Wigston Jekki, Walsall All of them, like the Irish girl, came from further afield and were heading elsewhere, anywhere in most cases You make the rule about not soiling your own doorstep, not shopping locally, as the saying goes you go to lengths to keep the rule in place, but this time the thing just happened Fruit falling from a tree you haven t even shaken something meant, it feels like And perhaps to do with being approached rather than the other way round, Mr Hilditch senses a promise this time the relationship is destined to be special Meanwhile, we empathise with Felicia s thinking, as her circumstances get worse and worse Hilditch, while pretending to be kind, steals her money so that she will be vulnerable, but she doesn t know this She starts off in cheap bed and breakfast places but is soon sleeping rough We know he is out to get her We know it is only a matter of time before she will enter his house, desperate for any form of shelter Her mental pain gets worse Soon it is physical pain when he persuades her to have a late abortion at his expense.
He is a serial killer, isn t he That s certainly what we assume And the fascination is like watching a cat playing with a mouse The cat has practised this many times The mouse is doomed But what kind of serial killer weeps like this Tears flow from Mr Hilditch, becoming rivulets in the flesh of his cheeks and his chin, dripping on to his neck, dampening his shirt and his waistcoat His sobbing becomes a moaning in the room, a sound as from an animal suffering beyond endurance, distraught and piteous It is a very sad novel He is, of course, a killer but not quite like you think Nothing ends up quite like you think as the novel builds in momentum and sweeps you along with it.
It is powerful writing If there is a weakness, it is that too much of the explanation for Hilditch s motivation is left to the final chapters In fact, perhaps there is simply too much explanation, period I am reminded of some of Trevor s short stories Miss Efoss is one Miss Smith is another where characters behave in bizarre and even cruel ways but the explanation is withheld We know there are explanations that is always clear because of the way at least one character is fully dissected But sometimes the beauty of the thing is to leave the reader puzzling, trying to assemble the clues.
I m tempted to think the novel form has made this short story writer feel he has to tie up of the ends say , suggest less and as a result this narrative is not quite as fine as some of his short prose fiction, not as shockingly unusual It is an excellent novel though It will stay with me.
One of the few modern fictions that I liked despite having not a single character I could relate to Two reasons 1 the writing is unique Trevor uses parallel narrations covering the lives of the two main characters and also a lot of flashbacks for both without confusing the reader It is like presenting two lives, each covering both their current and past, in one concise and clear go and 2 both characters are multi dimensional, although caricaturish at times, and standing directly at the opposite sides of a pole The way he presents them is like a symphony starting soft and simple, then smoothly and slowly builds up until it reaches the climax before mellowing down at the end It is like presenting two characters in contrast, entertwining them in the middle, reaching together their highest peak before beautifully falling down separately and settling on a soft leaf floating on a pond Lyrical yet arresting narration Exact and up to the point plot development Each word contributing to the story Just like symphony where each instrument plays a part in creating good quality unforgettable music.
Don t get the wrong picture though Although Trevor incorporates lots of music and food here, this novel is not your usual feel good story This is about a single loveless middle age obese lunatic, Mr Hilditch who fools the naive clueless young pregnant Felicia making her believe that he is helping her find her missing boyfriend Felicia is an Irish girl who is left pregnant by an Irish man, Johnny who serves in the British army making him not a suitable husband according to Felicia s patriotic father So, pregnant Felicia leaves Ireland to find Johnny in the UK only to fall prey to the lunatic Mr Hilditch Think Psycho male protagonist meeting a pregnant female boarder minus the knife and ax Then that Psycho killer is given a lot of screen time showing his soft, less evil normal side like cooking sumptous meals, listening to his favorite music, working hard in the restaurant that he manages, being liked by his subordinates and getting along wll with girls in his own fantasy Memory Lane world Brilliant characterizations making these two characters among the fiction people I will remember for a long time.
The only two reasons why I am not giving this a perfect 5 are also two 1 so many idiomatic expressions or words whose meanings I am not sure being not too familiar with British or Irish languages Examples are bloody poofter, Corner of Brunswick Way every evening on the dot, teetotal, dress for a chap, different kettle of fish, family at arm s length, etc.
and 2 had I not read yet the character of the killers in Truman Capote s In Cold Blood, I would have thought that the way Trevor developed the character of Mr Hilditch here elicing both hate and compassion from me is exceptional I still prefer Capote s style over Trevor s Although they are similar and well appreciated Bow William Trevor, well done This is my final book from the Mookse Madness list, and is perhaps the most difficult of them to assess and review there are 64 books on the list, but I had read 43 of them before it was announced As always Trevor s prose is immaculate, and he shows great empathy for his characters while subjecting them to hideous torments.
Initially the story appears to be that of Felicia, an innocent 17 year old Irish girl who becomes pregnant by Johnny Lysaght, a slightly older man who works in England and has told her he works in a lawn mower factory though her father tells her he is in the British army Felicia s attempts to contact him fail, and she steals some money from her family to enable her to travel to England to search for him, taking just a couple of plastic bags of belongings Her searches soon prove fruitless.
Next we are introduced to Hilditch, a lonely middle aged man who works as a catering manager for a factory He initially appears to befriend and help Felicia, tells her he has a wife who is seriously ill in hospital and provides a few leads for her search for Johnny, but it soon becomes clear that he is not telling her all he knows A lighter subplot concerns a crackpot religious sect who go round door to door pushing their message one of these also befriends Felicia The denouement starts when Felicia discovers that most of her money has disappeared I can t describe how I feel about this without resorting to spoilers, so please do not read on if you intend to read this book soon view spoiler She returns to Hilditch, who takes her in and arranges an abortion for her About two thirds of the way through there is a dramatic scene in which Felicia asks Hilditch for money to return home, he suggests a late night drive and she rightly suspects his true motive is to dispose of her, so she tries to escape We then move to Hilditch s perspective, and the next few chapters describe his further mental disintegration as he is unable to remember what happened to Felicia we are led to believe that he has murdered her as he has dealt with the several other lonely troubled girls he has befriended, a torment which eventually leads him to suicide He is harassed by the religious group, who know that the missing Felicia mentioned him, and he eventually admits to having taken her money But in the final chapter we discover that Felicia escaped to a vagrant life in another city, so there is a tentative note of redemption This is a brilliantly executed character study, Hilditch is a chillingly macabre but very human creation, but it is a very bleak book and a deeply uneasy one to read, and it left me with serious reservations about Trevor s motivation to write it and his intentions hide spoiler Felicia tutto, tranne quello che il suo nome dovrebbe evocare.
Da quando entra in queste pagine la vediamo muoversi in una palude di tristezza due sporte verdi, un piccolo gruzzolo rubato alla bisnonna centenaria e nient altro Cos Felicia una mattina sale sull autobus e lascia il villaggio in cui nata e cresciuta.
Lascia l Irlanda e parte per l odiata e temuta Inghilterra Seguendo vaghe informazioni diretta nella zona di Birmingham in cerca di Johnny Lysaght, sedicente fidanzato Incontrer una variet di persone tra cui il signor Hilditch, molto premuroso, forse un po troppo Le tinte fosche che colorano queste pagine hanno ulteriore ricchezza poich Trevor costruisce una trama che ci parla di mali contemporanei e di quella solitudine ed abbandono che ogni giorno si trascina sui marciapiedi cittadini.
Speranze ed illusioni che s infrangono.
Solitudine e il passato ingombrante da cui ci si deve difendere perch l assalto dei ricordi pu trasformarsi in un incubo ad occhi aperti Trevor vuole ricordarci quel famoso refrain de l apparenza che inganna e, in effetti, se dietro ad una vita che si presenta linda e rispettata si cela una personalit con disturbi pericolosi, al suo rovescio pu esserci una vita che esibita come avanzo della societ gli abiti lacerati, i denti guasti, l odore del corpo che solo fetore eppure l dietro ci pu essere il massimo della limpidezza.
Sono quelle esistenze che si ritirano dietro ad uno schermo di sporcizia e trasandatezza.
Sguardi vuoti che vagano di citt in citt scappando dai ricordi che inseguono come famelici segugiDopo Leggendo Turgenev , Trevor continua a piacermiSe torna a casa adesso, si sveglier di nuovo in quella stanza Un nuovo giorno sorger sulla stessa disperazione, il peso di doversi alzare quando il campanile suona le sei, l inizio di una nuova giornata Le scale strette saranno di nuovo pulite di marted , le lenzuola della vecchietta verranno cambiate durante il fine settimana Se torna ora, lo sguardo di suo padre sar ancora accusatore, i suoi fratelli minacceranno vendetta William Trevor is considered by many to be one of the most important figures in contemporary Irish literature, and I came across opinions which named Felicia s Journey as one of his best novels Since Trevor is an author who has authored many, this was the one I decided to read to begin my acquaintance with his work It turned out to be a strange mix I picked it up expecting a literary musing on the human condition, and got it but I also read a book which is at its heart a thriller A slow paced, meandering one, but undoubtedly a thriller.
The novel begins with its protagonist, Felicia, boarding the ferry from Ireland She is pregnant, and traveling to England with hope of finding Johnny Lysaght the man who fathered her child He left no address, except for a vague information about his job in a lawnmower factory somewhere in the English Midlands Felicia s father, a staunch Republican, believes that Johnny chose to join the British army, which for an Irish man is nothing short of treason Despite all this, Felicia choses to believe Johnny and sets out to find him hoping that once she does, everything will be all right.
As you can probably guess, things do not turn out to be this simple Felicia makes it to England with relative ease, but once she sets foot on the shore she steps out into another world one very bleak, cold, and depressing, much so than the small Irish town that she just left Although the year in which the action of the novel is never clearly stated or I have missed it , the grim portrait presented by Trevor suggests the early 1990 s, just after Margaret Thatcher s era as Prime Minister came to an end The Midlands the action takes place mostly in the city of Birmingham are depressed, overpopulated, dirty and hopeless The novel is almost Dickensian in its sense of describing the place during the time Overwhelming, endless grey skies, tall, bleak chimneys, alienation suffered by its poverty stricken characters, with poverty suffered by its sick, diseased, homeless and otherwise deprived inhabitants contrasted with the everpresent copious amounts of waste and trash generated by the other part of society signalling the growing obsession with consumerism and excess of having too much and caring too little.
Felicia is young, inexperienced, and hopelessly naive it is no wonder that she is quickly noticed by the other major character, Mr Hilditch At first, Hilditch seems to be kind and well meaning an overweight, mild mannered gentle man, kind and helpful, someone in whom we all could trust He works at one of the factories that Felicia visits, and is willing to help her find Johnny However, it eventually becomes apparent that there s to Hilditch that at first meets the eye there s a very dark and disturbing undertone to his character From the point that the two meet, their lives become interlinked and the book becomes no longer just Felicia s journey alone it is now Mr Hilditch s journey, too He is the slowly wound up trap to Felicia s lonely, unsuspecting mouse Little by little, he ensnares her and prepares to catch her in his grasp Where the book succeeds is Trevor s portrayal of Hilditch a troubled man who does despicable things, but for whom we cannot help but feel pity, even sympathy at times However, many authors have made their entire careers in writing cat and mouse novels about predatory characters, and the thriller element Felicia s Journey loses its impact in what is a oversaturated market The lack of a thrilling plot might turn off potential readers I too struggled with keeping my interest throughout the entire book, and found several parts of it largely implausible not least of them being Felicia s conveniently incredible naivete However, I did enjoy it and found the ending to the book satisfying and I will read Trevor in the future.
William Trevor ancora una volta si conferma narratore fine, attento, versatile nel cambio di registro lungo il corso della narrazione il romanzo parte come uno spaccato sociologico, poi diventa un romanzo di formazione, per concludersi come un thriller dal finale non scontato La trama apparentemente semplice, ma la fiducia e l inganno, la moralit e il moralismo, l apparenza e la verit , la delusione e la paura, la solitudine, la speranza, la rassegnazione, i rimorsi con cui bisogna imparare a convivere questo romanzo esplora le bugie che diciamo a noi stessi e agli altri e smaschera ci che siamo disposti a fare in nome delle nostre piccole, meschine fantasie.
Insieme a Patrick Modiano, William Trevor stato per me la scoperta migliore di quest anno.
DaIl viaggio di Felicianel 1999 stato tratto un film per la regia di Atom Egoyan.
be z2yPGlwHkI Dear William Trevor, You are a lovely, lovely writer, but I don t think things are going to work out between us This book is only just over 200 pages, but it took me a full week to read it And I was on vacation Initially I didn t really want to read it because I didn t want to see what horrible thing was going to happen to Felicia Then I did want to see and you refused to tell me Honestly, I got a bit bored In addition, I find myself unable to relate to your characters The reasons for the nonsensical actions they take feel a little thin to me or in the case of Lucy Gault a lot thin I suspect that this has something to do with the Irish fatalism I ve heard so much about, but don t really get Oh, well Perhaps our paths will cross again someday I hear you write wonderful short stories Best wishes,Gina Wow, this was a slow burner Trevor has an implacably deliberate sense of pacing and an instinct for telling detail that can make a barely 120 page novel seem bigger on the inside We are slowly given a vivid picture of a naive young Irish girl who has run away to Britain to find the boyfriend who has made her pregnant and of Mr Hildick, a middle aged catering manager at a factory Hildick befriends the girl, offers her help, but he is not what he seems he has befriended young girls in trouble before But his entanglement with Felicia seems to go further than any previous attachment.
Trevor gradually builds a gripping, horrifying portrayal of a wounded, monstrous beast and his intended victim Nothing is spelled out in excessive detail instead we are given a selection of little details that cumulatively let us build up the full picture, or a version of it Most intriguing of all is Felicia herself, who seems to somehow find release and a measure of the felicity her name evokes in a footloose, uncertain existence, but at least one whose broad outlines she has become familiar with Marked for victimhood,she has managed to subtly turn the tables, but not without cost to herself.
Equally fascinating is the religious cult that weaves in and out of these pages and the woman who serves as their door to door tout There are several other fascinating little side lights pinpointed for a moment or two in brilliant illumination before fading back into the textures of this intricately patterned and quietly devastating novel.
Felicia Is Unmarried, Pregnant, And Penniless She Steals Away From A Small Irish Town And Drifts Through The Industrial English Midlands, Searching For The Boyfriend Who Left Her Instead She Meets Up With The Fat, Fiftyish, Unfailingly Reasonable Mr Hilditch, Who Is Looking For A New Friend To Join The Five Other Girls In His Memory Lane But The Strange, Sad, Terrifying Tricks Of Chance Unravel Both His And Felicia S Delusions In A Story That Will Magnetize Fans Of Alfred Hitchcock And Ruth Rendell Even As It Resonates With William Trevor S Own Impeccable Strength And Piercing Profundity The Washington Post Book World