A young man gives a pair of pilgrims a lift to a wayside statue; two strangers meet at a hotel for a mysterious assignation; holidaymakers in Northern Ireland are haunted by the past. This is the world of William Trevor, widely hailed as the modern master of short fiction. His subtle and profound stories have kept critics and readers alike spellbound for over four decades. Now the author himself has chosen 17 of his finest stories for this new Folio Society edition, giving us a very personal perspective on the highlights of his career.
The novelist Allan Massie has said, ‘The short story as Trevor writes it, as Chekhov and Hemingway wrote it, is a novel in miniature, with everything omitted except the significant moment.’ The miniature masterpieces gathered here span decades and places, from 1960s Ireland in ‘The Ballroom of Romance’, where an unmarried woman spends wistful Saturday nights at her local dance hall, to present-day Paris in ‘Folie à Deux’, in which two childhood friends, their bond poisoned by a youthful prank, run into each other in a backstreet café. These are tales of life-changing mistakes, missed chances and unspoken desires, their protagonists often lost and lonely. Yet the pathos is lightened by the author’s compassionate understanding of the human heart, and his ability to say the most complicated things in a language that is, in the words of the writer Joseph O’Connor, ‘as clear as a glass of water’.
William Trevor was born in Mitchelstown, County Cork, in 1928. He is the author of numerous short story collections and eight novels, including the Whitbread Award-winning Felicia’s Journey, and has been three times shortlisted for the Booker Prize. This exclusive collection of stories, superbly illustrated by Lyndon Hayes, is a unique celebration of his gifts.
Read more about the life and work of William Trevor