Love and Summer – William Trevor

 Long Listed for the Booker Prize 2009

Love and Summer begins with a funeral. A mysterious stranger arrives and starts to photograph the mourners. A few of the guests spot him and are wary, especially because the deceased is said to own half the town. The plot builds slowly, through the observations of several members of the village.

I’m afraid that this was another one of those gentle books which failed to grab my attention. The character observations were amusing in places, but lacked the emotion I need to enjoy this sort of book. It was all too ordinary for me.

Unhurried in the wood, not wanting to hurry, Ellie reached out for these crowding memories. Cloonhill was gone now, closed down three years ago, the nuns gone back to the convent in Templeross. But you didn’t lose touch with a place when it wasn’t there any more; you didn’t lose touch with yourself as you were when you were part of it, with your childhood, with your simplicity then.

This book came across more as a portrait of an Irish village, than the story of any one person. There were a large number of characters, which further distanced me from each one.

The ending was quite satisfying, but the journey there was too slow and meandering.

There are a lot of similarities between this book and Brooklyn by Colm Tóibín, also long listed for the Booker Prize this year. I am sure that if you enjoy reading one, then you will love the other. Both books are observations of Irish life and leave more unsaid than is described on the page.

I know that a lot of people will love this book, but it just wasn’t for me.



Do you enjoy William Trevor’s writing?

Have you read any of his other books?

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  1. Simon S says:

    Oh I am sorry you didn’t enjoy this I thought the writing was stunning! I have got to read some of his other works the one about the missing girl (forgotten the name am in airport mode) sounds really good!

    1. Jackie says:

      Simon, I agree – the writing was great, but the story just didn’t engage me. I knew you’d love this one though!

  2. JoAnn says:

    I loved Brooklyn, and this sounds like one for me, too. Have never read Trevor and will definitely look for this! The US release is Sept. 17 according to amazon.

    1. Jackie says:

      JoAnn, You will probably enjoy this more than Brooklyn, but I’ll be interested to read your review and find out! You haven’t got long to wait.

  3. Beth F says:

    Despite the large cast of characters and slowness, this line intrigues me: “This book came across more as a portrait of an Irish village, than the story of any one person.” I may have to see if the library has a copy of the book, so I can try it without investing money.

    1. Jackie says:

      Beth, It is a very good book and I’m sure you’ll love it. I’m pleased that you can still see the book would appeal to you, despite the fact I didn’t enjoy it.

  4. Jenny says:

    I always have a hard time deciding whether to read books like this! On one hand, I love beautiful writing; on the other hand, I can never predict how much plot I’m going to need to be happy. I feel like a lot of lit’rary books skimp on the plot in favor of the writing.

    1. Jackie says:

      Jenny, I know what you mean! This book does have beautiful writing, but I do need a decent plot behind it. So many of these gentle books fail to hold my attention. I generally avoid them, unless they happen to be on a prize list. Sometimes I love them, but the majority of the time they aren’t worth the effort. I’m afraid this was just too gentle for me.

  5. raidergirl3 says:

    I’ve been trying to write a little review of this one for about a week now. You’ve done a good job of it. The book didn’t grab me or bother me, it just was. It was like Maeve Binchy, with better writing but less character and plot. (ooh, I may have my review now!)
    I have Brooklyn here to read, from the library. I’ll try another, because I do like Irish characters and stories.

    1. Jackie says:

      raidergirl3, Thanks. I struggled to write this review too. There just isn’t much to talk about. Good luck with yours – I look forward to reading it!

  6. Lu says:

    Unfortunately, William Trevor and I ARE NOT FRIENDS. I read his book The Story of Lucy Gault and really really just didn’t get it. I probably won’t be picking up any of his books any time soon :)

    1. Jackie says:

      Lu, Sorry to hear you are not friends! I’ve not tried Lucy Gault, but will probably pick it up one day as I’m strying to read the complete Booker short list. I imagine this is one you should avoid!

  7. Sandy says:

    Sounds like you are in need of a good dose of murder and mayhem! I recently bought Brooklyn, but will keep in mind that I need to be in the mood for gentle. We will see if I like it…if I do, I may chase this one down.

    1. Jackie says:

      Sandy, Don’t worry I’ve managed to find some – see The Strain in my sidebar!!

  8. Diane says:

    Thanks for the review Jackie; sorry it was not as good as you hoped. I really want to read both this and Brooklyn. I’ll let you know what I think :)

    1. Jackie says:

      Diane, I look forward to reading your reviews!

  9. From the plot, I’d expect it to be faster-paced. Good review, but it sounds like one I won’t pick up any time soon.

    1. J.T. No, the plot is very slow moving. Sounds as though this one isn’t for you.

  10. I was planning on skipping this one ’til the shortlist was announced anyway, so don’t think I’m missing out!

    Also, one of those books where the title just didn’t grab me, or interest me… the plot does sound interesting though….

    1. Jackie says:

      anothercookiecrumbles, Competition for the short list is going to be very tough this year. There are so many great books on the list. I don’t think this one will make it, but I could be wrong!

  11. Violet says:

    Although the premise is interesting lately I don’t enjoy books that are slow and only character based.

    1. Jackie says:

      Violet, You do have to be in the right mood for them. I have enjoyed a couple, but the majority of the time I like plot based novels.

  12. Jeanne says:

    Years ago I loved Trevor’s Fools of Fortune. It was also a bit quiet and slow, but I thought it culminated in powerful feeling. It doesn’t sound like this one does that.

    1. Jackie says:

      It does sound similar to this one. If you enjoyed Fools of Fortune then I’m sure you’ll love this one.

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