I just finished William Trevor’s latest novel (his first since the disappointing Story of Lucy Gault) and am happy to report he’s back in the driver’s seat at age 82 or so. From Thomas Mallon’s New York Times review:
There is a good deal of kindness in Trevor’s Rathmoye, and in the Rathmoyes he has created before it. Dillahan is good to Ellie, as the nuns had been. Mrs. Carley, once a maid at Shelhanagh, is kind to Florian; and the customers of aging Mr. Buckley, one of the salesmen at Mrs. Connulty’s, look out for him, correcting the errors he now makes when writing up orders, protecting him so “that he might safely reach the retirement he secretly craved.”
But dread and terror are also always present in this repressive world. Trevor is fantastically effective at foreboding; he can make a reader squirm just by withholding the next bit of some long-past anterior action he’s been recounting. When he wishes, as in his 1994 novel, “Felicia’s Journey,” he can depict the most gruesome violence, but always in the same even tones with which the hens get fed. This new novel, except for the accidents that took Mrs. Connulty’s husband and Dillahan’s first wife, is a delicate sort of drama — there is no corpse in the basement, no bomb lies hidden in any drawer — but even so, a reader will have his heart in his mouth for the last 50 pages. And when that heart settles back down, it will be broken and satisfied.