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Love and Summer [Hardcover]

William Trevor
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Book Description

May 1 2010
It's summer and nothing much is happening in Rathmoye. So it doesn't go unnoticed when a dark-haired stranger appears on his bicycle and begins photographing the mourners at Mrs Connulty's funeral. Florian Kilderry couldn't know that the Connultys were said to own half the town; and, in any case, he had come to Rathmoye only to see the scorched remains of the cinema. But Mrs Connulty's daughter, liberated at last by the death of her imperious mother, resolves to keep an eye on Florian Kilderry, and it's she who comes to witness the events that follow. A few miles out in the country a farmer called Dillahan lives with the knowledge that he was accidentally responsible for the deaths of his wife and baby. He has married again: Ellie is the young convent girl who came to work for him when he was widowed. But she falls in love with Florian and though he plans to leave Ireland, a dangerously reckless attachment develops between them. In a characteristically masterly way Trevor evokes the passions and frustrations felt by Ellie and Florian, and by the people of a small Irish town during one long summer.
--This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

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I was totally entranced ... a rare book Ruth Scurr, The Times A fabulously benign book ... a work of sympathetic magic Sebastian Barry, Guardian I can't think of anything I've read recently that has chronicled more accurately the thumping chaos of human hearts or felt more questioning and youthful and alive Julie Myerson, Financial Times --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

About the Author

William Trevor was born in Mitchelstown, County Cork. He has written many novels, and has won many prizes including the Hawthornden Prize, the Yorkshire Post Book of the Year Award, and the Whitbread Book of the Year Award. He is a celebrated short-story writer whose two most recent collections are The Hill Bachelors (2000), which won the Macmillan Silver Pen Award and the Irish Times Literature Prize, and A Bit on the Side (2004). Both are available in Penguin, as are his Collected Stories. In 1999 William Trevor received the prestigious David Cohen Literature Prize in recognition of a lifetime's literary achievement, and in 2002 he was knighted for his services to literature. He now lives in Devon. --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Setting his story among the bucolic landscapes of rural Ireland, William Trevor courses through the peaks and troughs of an unlikely romance, two people drawn together, forced to grapple with the inevitable small town innuendo particularly that of the officious publican and her brother. It is an exaggeration to say that nothing much happens in the sleepy town of Rathmoye even as most of the townspeople continue to live there. The story begins with a funeral Mass for Mrs. Connulty, and while recollections are shared and her life lauded, a young man whose name is Florian Kilderry in a pale tweed suit surreptitiously photographed the scene. Ostensibly coming to photograph the town's burnt-out cinema, dark haired and in his early twenties, and with hints of stylishness in his demeanor, Florien is undoubtedly a stranger in Rathmoye.

Meanwhile, orphaned at an early age, Ellie has been sent to housekeep for a kindly red-headed farmer. His sisters had found her and bought her to the farm with her belongings in a white wooden box that had to be returned. Bullish and burly, the salt-of-the earth, Dillahan ekes out a living on his farm, haunted by the tragedy seven years ago which left him both widowed and childless. Try as he might he could never prevent the memory from nagging at him. A decent man, respected and sober, lately it has become apparent that Dillahan hasn't been comfortable in himself since the tragedy he had suffered.

Back in Rathmoye two other characters move Trevor's melancholy tale forward: Mrs. Connulty's son and daughter who run their bed-and-breakfast stop-over for commercial travelers. Once close companions neither brother or sister communicated with one another for weeks on end, "that he was despised by his sister was one of the blaming's variations.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.2 out of 5 stars  60 reviews
74 of 78 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unforgettable July 21 2009
By Tom S. - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product
In this wonderfully detailed snapshot of a vanishing Ireland, a young woman falls in love too quickly, a young man falls in love too slowly, and the consequences are ultimately heart-wrenching.

The book starts in a passive voice that demands the reader's full attention to understand fully what is going on. After a bit I recognized this as a sort of verbal averted vision, conveying respect for a funeral in progress. The skill with which this was accomplished amazed me, and though I was glad to have the book then proceed in a more conventional narrative, I noted other areas where style variations conveyed as much of the book's substance as the literal sense of the words did. Wow!

The book is set in village/rural Ireland in a vaguely specified time that I guess would be about 1965. The material culture, characters, their interactions, institutions that effect them - everything that enters into the story is detailed concisely yet clearly enough to recognize this as a regional story, not just a generic Ireland, but probably in the middle-south of the island. It may be useful to know some details of Irish life already - for example it is helpful at one point know that in Ireland "Pioneers" are sworn teetotalers - but much of this you will get by osmosis through the book.

The characters are so real I will surely not forget them. The old servant, cast off by the fled aristocracy, whose dementia-driven ravings seem about as clear as a classical Oracle and ultimately turn the story. The young woman, "placed" on a widower's farm out of Catholic orphanage, married for respect and security, who stumbles on her first experience of love. The observant spinster, inheritor of the boarding house, who sees right to the heart of the girl's peril in a single bit of street conversation glimpsed through a window. No-one is very demonstrative, but the people can see each other's hearts directly. On reflection I understood that to depend on not only the inevitable interest and effective intimacy of a sparse village and rural population, but on their homogeneous culture. In America, and in much of Ireland today, the basis for that sort ready understanding is eroded, and misunderstanding is more likely. Thus I saw this as a story of a very particular time and place, not just in its setting but in its core.

I'm not going to detail the story, and I hope other reviewers will refrain as well; it deserves to be discovered as read. Parts of the book may seem very deliberate in the story's development, even a bit staid; but the full weight of the entire work comes to bear in the ending. I highly recommend this book to read and re-read.

[This review was written based on an Advance Uncorrected Proof edition of the book]
22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars All in Good Time July 28 2009
By Roger Brunyate - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product
Consider the opening paragraph. "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." How beautifully it sets the period, establishes the mid-sized Irish town, brushes against the mild pretension of "Number 4 The Square," and adds its final piece of delayed information: Mrs. Connulty was in her coffin. William Trevor treads with assurance on familiar ground, but he never quite walks in straight lines; he will tell you what you need to know only when you need it. In this book where nothing much happens -- at least to the outward eye -- it is important that things be told at their proper pace and in the right order. At this, Trevor is the acknowledged master.

Mrs. Connulty's funeral gives us occasion to meet the main characters, who are few. The old lady's middle-aged son and daughter, both business people in the town. An elderly man whose mind is stuck thirty years back. Ellie, a naive young woman from the countryside. And a strange young man on a bicycle who takes photographs. The only major character not present is Dillahan, Ellie's husband, a sheep-farmer who has his reasons for avoiding company. I am only at the start of the second chapter, and already I have revealed more than the author (although the jacket blurb gives away almost the entire plot). Taking his time, but never wasting words, Trevor will tell us more of Dillahan's tragedy, and how he came to marry this dutiful girl from the orphanage. He will have us meet the bicycling photographer, Florian Kilderry, living alone in a crumbling mansion outside town. He will have Florian meet Ellie, unaware at first that she is married, and gradually let us enter both their hearts. And he will establish the older characters as town chorus, occasional bit-players, and individuals with past secrets of their own.

In novels such as THE STORY OF LUCY GAULT, and even more in his story collections like the perfectly-titled AFTER RAIN, Trevor has shown an amazing ability to emerge from apparent tragedy with an outcome that, though seldom the storybook ending, is emotionally consoling and morally right. Although LOVE AND SUMMER is not his strongest book, in this respect he does not disappoint. We may think we know these people and what is going to happen... but then Trevor slowly reveals more of each of them, here deepening our sympathies, there shading them with further knowledge. Over the course of the long summer, the emotional perspective slowly shifts. By the time the senile old man stumbles back into the picture, bringing a muddled epiphany, we will understand that the surprising resolution is really the only one possible.
23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars William Trevor does it again - just wonderful July 21 2009
By sb-lynn - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product
Brief summary, no spoilers:

This beautiful little book takes place during one summer. The time is the mid 1950s.

Ellie Dillahan is a young woman, married to a kindly farmer (referred to as "Dillahan" in the book) who is several years older. Ellie was a foundling, raised in the convent where she was left as an infant. She is sent directly from that convent to work for Dillahan, and after a couple of years they marry.

We know that years earlier there was a terrible accident of some sort involving Dillahan's wife and child. We see that Ellie is now a comfort to him and he is a good husband to her.

Into this picture comes Florian Kilderry, a young man raised affectionately by two bohemian parents. When he happens to be in Ellie's town taking pictures of a funeral, they meet, and Ellie falls in love.

Ellie must decide between her husband and Florian - and Trevor shows us that the choice is anything but easy.

There are other assorted wonderful characters. The book starts out with a funeral, and we become acquainted with the dead woman's twin daughter and son. Something terrible has happened to the daughter, and we know that she and the mother didn't get along. The daughter takes a special interest in Ellie and Florian.

We also meet a deranged older man named Orpen, who becomes an important player in the story.

This is a very short book, and you can probably read it in a few hours. But it packs a big punch. The language is just beautiful, and Trevor paints a wonderful picture of a small Irish town in the 1950s, and how our past has everything to do with the choices we make now.

Recommended. William Trevor is one of my favorite writers, and this book demonstrates why.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Exquisite Read Aug. 8 2009
By Mr. August - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product
Many women know that love and summer can be a heart-breaking mix. In this superb novel by William Trevor, the reader is introduced to what could be an explosive and destructive love affair. Taking place in a small town in Ireland, Rathmoye, in the 1950's, there is not much news. The town is populated with farmers, shopkeepers and other small business owners who worry about their financial survival.

The novel opens with a stranger taking photographs of the funeral of Mrs. Connulty, a prominent resident of the town, who disliked her own daughter and husband. The daughter, Ms. Connulty has a secret past of a lost love. Her bitterness transfers to Ellie Dillahan, a farmer's wife who falls in love with the photographer, Florian Kilderry. Based on this premise, Trevor writes a tale of suspicion, guilt and starting over with wondrous scenes of everyday life and those of unrequited love.

With great subtlety, Trevor develops Ellie Dillahan, a foundling, who was outsourced from an orphanage to a widower's farm. She makes every effort to learn the skills required to help the farmer and he marries her after a short time. Despite her ample intentions and poignant undertaking of all the tasks given her, Trevor awakens her passion when she meets Florian. Florian's response to Ellie is more than a fleeting comparison to that of Ms. Connulty's secret history. Other important characters are the husband of Ellie, who lived with agony and tragedy, and a rather demented old man, Orpen Wren who plays a strong role at the outskirts of the plot.

The dialogue is exceptional and Trevor's perspective provokes sympathies and nostalgia in the most jaded reader.
19 of 25 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Quietly Moving and Slightly Unsettling Sept. 28 2009
By Bookreporter - Published on
As fans of the 81-year-old author's 13 other novels (including the Man Booker-shortlisted THE STORY OF LUCY GAULT) and 12 collections of short stories can attest, William Trevor has made a long-standing career out of exploring the quiet, melancholic lives of ordinary, repressed people with past shame to hide and present secrets to keep. But he does it in such a way that seems new (albeit slightly short of revelatory) each time.

His latest novel, LOVE AND SUMMER, takes place half a century ago in the small Irish town of Rathmoye. The residents are simple folk, many of them farmers, who lead fairly basic lives. Everyone knows everyone else (and everyone else's business), and they rarely venture out beyond the town's boundaries, let alone to the nearest city. This type of pristine yet somewhat hermetic setting is ripe for an interloper, and Trevor's Florian Kilderry is not only as unassumingly assuming as they come, he's also the perfect shoe-in for a catalyst.

Dressed in a tweed coat, riding into town on a bicycle, Florian appears on the scene --- the funeral of one of the town's revered elders, Mrs. Connulty --- without much fanfare, or so he thinks. Intending to quickly photograph an old dilapidated cinema in the town before departing, he minds his business and asks directions when needed, hoping to blend into the background. But as anyone from a small town knows, strangers don't just blend in --- especially ones with a camera around their neck.

The minute Ellie Dillahan, the wife of a widowed farmer who accidentally ran over his first wife and child with a tractor years earlier, sets her gaze on Florian, her life is unalterably different. "She wondered if she would be the same herself; if she was no longer --- and would not be again --- the person she was when she had gone to Mrs. Connulty's funeral and for all the time before that." In true Trevor fashion, this chance encounter splinters Ellie's once solid (if complacent) life into a "before" and an "after," two bipolar modes of consciousness that, for her, are now irrevocably irreconcilable.

For the remainder of the slim book, Trevor unwinds the sad story of the affair between Ellie and Florian, using spare and restrained language. Most of the action happens off the page, and whatever action there is, is contained. Unfortunately for the reader, this makes for somewhat snoozy reading. What is interesting, however, is what happens after the summer (and, thus, the affair) is over.

LOVE AND SUMMER (what a strangely deceptive title) is peppered with characters who each have their own burden to shoulder. Ellie's too-kind husband borders on the pitiful in his relentless, guilt-ridden suffering. Miss Connulty, the daughter of the deceased Mrs. Connulty, comes off as unnecessarily bitter and cold --- but she has her skeleton in the closet, too. And Orpen Wren, the nattering old man who is half off his rocker with a head stuck in the past, seems downright creepy.

Is LOVE AND SUMMER a joy to read? Not by a long shot. It's not that engrossing, either. But there's something quietly moving and slightly unsettling about what little Trevor's characters are left with at the end of the story --- and that situation, a possibility for all of us, is what sticks with you.

--- Reviewed by Alexis Burling
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