Love and Summer by William Trevor, 212 pages
Man Booker Longlist 2009; Published in 2009
On a June evening some years after the middle of the last century Mrs Eileen Connulty passed through the town of Rathmoye: from Number 4 The Square to Magennis Street, into Hurley Lane, along Irish Street, across Cloughjordan Road to the Church of the Most Holy Redeemer. Her night was spent there.
Mrs Connulty may have died as the book begins, but her reach travels all through the book, and her presence is still in the town. Her two children are inheriting her positions in town. A stranger arrives in town, taking pictures at the funeral, and makes friends with a young married girl. The back story on all the characters was well done, and enlightening as to their choices and decisions. Trevor allows us to meet the people and get an impression, and then he lets us see where they came from and why they are they way they are. As I try to summarize the plot and characters, I realize how much Trevor has packed into this short book, while evoking a time and place of Ireland. A lot of sad lives, but they don't even realize that they are sad for the most part.
Well-written, lots left unsaid, interesting characters - I can understand why this is on the Booker longlist, but I would still prefer to read the same story told by Maeve Binchy. It's just the kind that she would write - small town, nosy and judgemental characters, adultery, and difficult decisions. It is fun to watch all the developments and hope for some characters, but I like a little more expository to the plot. In the end, I am ambivalent to the book - I neither liked nor disliked it; it just didn't match my head.
I expect that there would be many people who would like this, so I don't want to dissuade anyone. I haven't read any William Trevor books before and this doesn't put me off them. I read this just after a historical fiction(In the Company of the Courtesan) and just before an extremely suspenseful, plot driven book(No Time for Goodbye), and it just didn't stand out, but it does a good job of what it is supposed to be - observing, describing, a slice of Irish life.
also reviewed at literary license, jackie at farmlanebooks