Later Stories by William Trevor

A Bit on the Side
After Rain
Cheating at Canasta
The Hill Bachelors

My other reviews of William Trevor:

My previous reviews of older or classic books:

When I read these books, my thoughts will appear in the comment stream below…

4 thoughts on “Later Stories by William Trevor

    (from ‘Cheating at Canasta’)

    “…and he imagined he was in the car alone with her, that the man wasn’t there, that he hadn’t come to Ireland with her, that he didn’t exist.
    ‘Do you hear about St Teresa of Ávila? Do you hear about her in Ireland?’ Her lips opened and closed in the driving mirror, her teeth flashing, the tip of her tongue there for a moment.”

    A most moving story of 19 year old simple-minded Cahal who helps his Dad mend cars in the garage in Ireland, and there is a statue in a nearby village that was said to weep tears; he takes Spanish visitors (a man and that woman whose lips are in the driving mirror) to see that miracle legend that Cahal believes to be hokum, takes them in a tyre-leaky car for the money, and what happens? No retelling of the story here will express what happens because each time you read it something different will happen, like once he went back and picked something up and moved it and fulfilled a new destiny by the end. [As well as hankering for his own girl, Cahal also loved the singer called Madonna. And world football. There is a grey area between being simple-minded and deluded. The grey diminishing area between Cahal and the dressmaker?]

    (From ‘A Bit on the Side’)

    “‘We see a lot of widowing,’ Norah murmured.”

    Winnowing, too, I reckon, as in separating the living ghosts from the dead ones. Two women in oldish Ireland who take it upon themselves to ‘sit with the dead’ as their activity in life, arrive too late but sit with Emily instead who has watched her horse-bartering husband dying into his eventual death over the last few months, and the conversation gradually reveals her sad downtrodden marriage, a situation that the two sitters winnow on the way home in their car. Utterly poignant.

    (From The Hill Bachelors)

    “Lace Cap is the colour chosen. Sidney pours it into the roller dish and rolls it on to the ceiling, beginning at the centre, which a paint-shop man advised him once was the best way to go about it. The colour seems white but he knows it isn’t.”

    Vera 40 something; Sidney, once a stranger, now their odd job man, including doing broken bush-rose dismantlement, is 30 something; her father, like General Suffolk in another story, 78. There was a disabled sister, Mona. Once.
    Sidney gave Vera an alibi by saying he met her in the cinema at the time the intruder had entered the house…
    We work out how everything fits together without realising it is working US out. That is what fiction does. It is the reader that lands the fatal blow. And helps with whether tiling comes before painting in a bathroom. And whether Vera and Sidney will become an item when the father vanishes, too.

    “‘Out of control,’ Mr Schele comments, hearing that. ‘The whole globe out of control.’”

  4. The Piano Tuner’s Wives
    (From After Rain)

    “She had not attended the first wedding, although she had been invited. She’d kept herself occupied that day, whitewashing the chicken shed, but even so she’d wept.”

    The story of a blind piano-tuner who, when young, rejects one woman and marries another as his first wife, and then when the latter dies much later, he marries the first woman. Touching and poignant, when we learn what one could possibly extrapolate might have happened in such circumstances before reading this work did in fact happen. But nobody, I say, would have predicted the separate stories of colours and details each woman might have concocted for him when helping the logistics of his travelling to the pianos that needed tuning…
    Gave a new slant on story-making as well as on story-telling itself.

    “When the romance began with the man who had once rejected her, her brother and his wife considered she was making a mistake, but did not say so, only laughingly asked if she intended taking the chickens with her.”

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