Love and Summer

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 04 July, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 04 July, 2010, 12:00am

Love and Summer
by William Trevor
Penguin, HK$104

The publication of Love and Summer feels like a bona fide event: not only is it William Trevor's first novel in seven years, Love and Summer is the latest work by one of Ireland's finest modern writers. The plot, set in the early 1950s, begins with typical Trevorish melancholy at a funeral. The deceased is Mrs Connulty, one of Rathmoye town's wealthy residents. Watching the procession of mourners is a stranger - Trevor's version, perhaps, of the anonymous 'man in the brown mackintosh' from Dignam's funeral in James Joyce's Ulysses. Trevor's character is not so anonymous, however. He is a photographer called Florian Kilderry who has just inherited a local house. When Kilderry is seen talking to Ellie Dillahan, the only person to notice him at the funeral, tongues begin to wag about an affair between the arty outsider and the vulnerable wife, orphan and former servant. While her husband wrestles with the past (the death of his first wife and son), Ellie finds herself falling in love with the flamboyant Kilderry. The slow shifts of character happen with graceful magic. Trevor's prose sprinkles generous human compassion wherever it goes. A beautiful and wise book.