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Felicia's Journey

3.68 of 5 stars 3.68  ·  rating details  ·  1,893 ratings  ·  212 reviews
Felicia's Journey is a simple tale told with a subtle complexity. Felicia is an Irish country girl who has come to England to look for her jilted lover. Hilditch is a mild-mannered, gentle psychopath who lures the helpless Felicia into his trap. Interestingly, we see the story from each character's eyes when they are separate, but from Hilditch's view when they are togethe...more
Published (first published 1994)
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K.D. Absolutely
Sep 21, 2010 K.D. Absolutely rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to K.D. by: 501 Must Read Books; 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die (2006-2010 versions)
Shelves: 1001-core, 501, drama
One of the few modern fictions that I liked despite having not a single character I could relate to. Two reasons: (1) the writing is unique. Trevor uses parallel narrations covering the lives of the two main characters and also a lot of flashbacks for both without confusing the reader. It is like presenting two lives, each covering both their current and past, in one concise and clear go and (2) both characters are multi-dimensional, although caricaturish at times, and standing directly at the o...more
Jayaprakash Satyamurthy
Jun 09, 2013 Jayaprakash Satyamurthy rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jayaprakash by: jayaprakash@gmail.com
Wow, this was a slow burner. Trevor has an implacably deliberate sense of pacing and an instinct for telling detail that can make a barely 120-page novel seem bigger on the inside. We are slowly given a vivid picture of a naive young Irish girl who has run away to Britain to find the boyfriend who has made her pregnant and of Mr. Hildick, a middle-aged catering manager at a factory. Hildick befriends the girl, offers her help, but he is not what he seems - he has befriended young girls in troubl...more
Helen (Helena/Nell)
I read this novel on holiday, immediately after Patricia Highsmith’s Ripley’s Game. I had thought of the Highsmith as my murder/mystery romp and the Trevor as my ‘literary’ read. However, they have more in common than I thought. Trevor is also a bit of a murder mystery romp, the first time I’ve ever thought of him in that way. Both novels exercise psychological compulsion; both build intensity and then suddenly switch scene or character. They draw a lot of energy from what they don’t tell you—at...more
Dera Weaver
I think now I will start on a William Trevor marathon--I loved The Story of Lucy Gault, and now Felicia's Journey has drawn me toward Trevor again. I've never been very good about sniffing out all the underlying political and religious tangles in Irish writing, but I do so completely "get" Trevor's take on one of my own persistent questions, one that is possibly my strongest reason for reading at all: how much is enough to make a life?
There is in this book a gradual tightening of the story that...more
Gina
Dear William Trevor,

You are a lovely, lovely writer, but I don't think things are going to work out between us. This book is only just over 200 pages, but it took me a full week to read it. And I was on vacation! Initially I didn't really want to read it because I didn't want to see what horrible thing was going to happen to Felicia. Then I did want to see and you refused to tell me. Honestly, I got a bit bored. In addition, I find myself unable to relate to your characters. The reasons for the...more
TheGirlBytheSeaofCortez
Thought by many to be William Trevor’s greatest work in a lifetime of great works, Felicia’s Journey centers around eighteen-year-old Felicia (of course), an Irish girl adrift in the English Midlands searching for Johnny Lysaght, the young man who abandoned her in a rural Irish village, leaving her not only heartbroken but pregnant. Although Felicia’s very patriotic father believes Johnny’s run off to join the British Army (and Irish boys, he tells Felicia, should remain in Ireland), Felicia cho...more
Deirdre
Incredibly well written. Haunting, but to date the only book that I have read where I physically threw the book, repulsed by the character.
Josh
I had heard that William Trevor was one of the greatest writers still working today. I can't say I disagree, though this book took me a long time to read. I also can't seem to find the right adjective for his style. It's not "meditative" or "subtle" or "understated." It's exactingly stated and very dreamlike. (To that point, one five-page chapter depicts the fuzzy transition out of a dream into an equally surreal waking event. It is truly majestic writing.) So, I'm impatient and maybe a little l...more
Elaine
They say no one can tell a story like an Irishman (or woman) and William Trevor is sure testament to that. I was only familiar with his (very powerful) short stories, and plucked this from a used book shelf thinking it was stories I could read on the bus. It is a novel, whose protagonist is a young Irish girl who leaves home to try to find the boyfriend who has left without giving her his address. She knows he meant to. All she knows is that he works in the store room of a lawn mower factory in...more
Erin Almond
This is the kind of book that's so masterfully written, it's worth reading twice. The first time, you'll be on the edge of your seat, following the plot. The second time around you'll notice how efficiently the author instills a sense of place using spot-on details, and explores character histories and psychologies. Felicia is a run away from Ireland, Mr. Hilditch is a catering manager with questionable motives who finds her wandering the streets of somewhere-near-Birmingham. The narrative alter...more
Fiona
I just love William Trevor. Having read Lucy Gault, I thought this would be more of the same and I was happy with that. It's completely different though and because I hadn't read about it beforehand, totally unexpected. Mr Hilditch, who befriends lonely young girls in need of help, is a strange and fascinating character. As we learn more about him, the suspense and frustration builds and in between, we have Trevor's beautiful prose such as his full page description of the plight of the homeless....more
Paul
Liked it. Effortless and enjoyable, impressive writing. My biggest complaint is the pacing. For a 200-page novel, this felt slow. It felt like a novella stretched into a novel. Lots of flashbacks/backstory, lots of reticence. Reticence to the point of coyness, at times, which is annoying but maybe acceptable for this sort of novel? I was definitely at the edge of my seat. When I was at the edge of my seat, anyway. Lots of times I was slogging through backstory going Yeah, okay, but what happens...more
Will Tate
I had read William Trevor's "Love and Summer" and some of his short stories (I'd particularly recommend "Solitude" in the collection "A Bit on the Side") and had always been impressed by his tight plotting and his effortless use of language. He is a master of his form and can be compared to Hardy in the way that he heaps misfortunes upon his stoic characters. So I began reading this story expecting more of the same. Young Felicia secretly leaves her home in rural Ireland, where she is little mor...more
Savvy
With his carefully crafted, starkly rich prose, William Trevor explores some of the darkest corners of the human psyche.
Taking his hand is always a journey...but for Felicia, a journey at once intensely complicated and desolately mendacious!

In the disturbed mind of Mr. Hilditch, a darkness nurtured in childhood and fed (literally) from the ministrations of a famous celebrity chef.
A pudgy young boy with a beautiful and overly patronizing mother who feeds his need to be deceptively caring to you...more
Gbeab
I am absorbed at last in Chapter 18 where it's clear what has wrung poor Hilditch out to dry his whole life. The most moving and close portrait of him resides in Chapter 18, especially pages 147-48 in the edition (pictured) I am reading. Felicia is not painted or portrayed near as close as Hilditch and it makes me wonder how her journey isn't his. What am I missing in this construction, to title a book as though to attribute the journey to the lead named character, yet to follow into the blood t...more
Marialyce
Now that I am done, I can't help but think that in this book, Trevor is so like Hitchcock in creating an aura of suspended suspense. There were many nuances and concepts that led one to the characters of Felicia and Mr. Hilditch. Their characterizations made them ever so real, yet ever so dreamlike. One felt sorry for the both of them, one so abused, the other so unprepared for life, so utterly stupid.

Neither one of then held any allure but the reader finds them alluring. Mr. Trevor created of c...more
Carolyn
Whoa, this isn't the typical kind of book that I would read. But it was on my bookshelf and it was a short-story.

This book reminded me of Edgar Allen Poe's, "The Tell-Tale Heart." Remember reading that one in high school? It creeps you out the entire time your reading it, and you're just waiting for something bad to happen. And it does. Just like this book.

A 17-year old girl, Felicia, goes looking for her summer fling, Johnny, who has left for England without leaving her an address (he's going t...more
Gord Higginson
Fascinating book, but not as good as Trevor's short stories. I found the Canadian-made movie (1999)in some ways superior to the book, as Atom Egoyam (the director) added a fascinating subplot about the "murderer's"(but is he actually a murderer? this idea is left open in the book) childhood to explain facets of his behavior in the movie. On the other hand, the book has a better, more realistic and darker ending, as well as a generally-better (more in-depth, detailed delineation of character) tre...more
Jonpaul
Honestly, my reading of this suffered greatly from having first seen the movie. Trevor's prose is without reproach and frequently so deft that it's astonishing. This novel is truly a psychological thriller with an emphasis on the psychological. As the characters start to fall apart mentally, so too does the narrative. Trevor makes it so the reader is stuck in the same mental loops as Hilditch. The approach was problematic for me because mental trains of thought and this novel feel repetitive. By...more
Allie Cresswell
I read this book because somebody had compared my own work to William Trevor's. I must say that I feel very flattered!
Although a melancholy story with some troubled and tragic characters, this story unfolds with all the natural beauty of an unfurling rose. Layers gradually peel apart to reveal the secret heart; the heart might be blighted and bitter but it's revelation is exquisite. The reason for Felicia's journey, the fate of Mr Hilditch's other women friends, the nature of his relationship wi...more
John
Perhaps it was a mistake for the publisher to say in the blurb that this would "magnetize fans of . . . Ruth Rendell at her most chilling"; Ruth Rendell, as I was reminded on reading her/Barbara Vine's The Chimney Sweeper's Boy just the other day, writes Ruth Rendell novels so much better than anyone else! So I had to try to look at this as a William Trevor novel, not a Ruth Rendell one.

Irish small-town girl Felicia falls pregnant by her boyfriend Johnny. He was home just briefly to visit his mu...more
Anne Sanow
I was lucky enough to read this in hardback and before the movie came out, because the book's flap copy didn't give away creepy Hilditch's true character; I actually experienced a moment of horrific revelation. Readers just coming to the book now might do well to skip the paperback's copy and the movie before reading. Whether you do or not (and the movie is quite wonderful, by the way), this story is definitely five-star Trevor for its precise, in-depth characters and broader cultural sweep.
Christine
The first Trevor book I read and I thought it was excellent. Well drawn charcters, especially Felicia and Hilditch. One of the most suspenseful books I've read but in an incredibly quiet and subtle way. The last 30 pages or so of the book left me so tense I didn't even realize it until I finished it and finally felt myself relax. Read the whole book on a non-stop flight from San Francisco. Another thing I love about Trevor's books is that he doesn't need many pages to tell a really great story.
Katie Grainger
Felicia's Journey follows a young Irish girl in search of the boy who has made her pregnant. Felicia is searching for Johnny the lad who has left her in Ireland with a bun in the oven. Armed only with the knowledge of Johnny working in a lawn mower factory Felicia sets of too the Midlands in England to find him, desperate to find out what he wants to do about the baby. However things prove more difficult than she imagines. When Felicia struggles to find Johnny she is befriended by the sinister M...more
Julie
Few writers can match William Trevor for emotional intensity and in Felicia's Journey his exploration of bleak lives on the edge of society is both gripping and unrelenting. Felicia leaves her home in Ireland in search of the ne'er do well father of her unborn child in the English Midlands but through bad luck soon finds herself lost and alone in a grim landscape of industrial estates and link roads. Here she is befriended by Mr Hilditch, an overweight catering manager at a local factory with a...more
Margaret
Felicia is a naive young Irish woman who comes to England to find her boyfriend and tell him she's expecting their child. She finds instead a catering manager, Mr. Hilditch (we never learn his first name). The narrative proceeds through one or other of their perspectives and a series of flashbacks which fills in each of their previous histories. This is a spare, lyrical novel. The characters are finely drawn, and though Felicia is quite unlike me, and Hilditch a monster, I found myself able to i...more
Sarah
This book seems to be less about Felicia and more about Mr Hilditch. That's not a bad thing-- while Felicia came across as naive, Mr Hilditch was awfully fascinating, and fascinatingly awful. A good read, very well written, and I can't help but agree with previous reviewers-- the best word is "haunting".
Elliot
Found myself skimming again and again to get on with it. Felicia is not very well developed beyond some broad strokes and stereotypes. The other character is much more multi-dimensional and unique and the story picks up toward the end.
Bill
Possibly England's best living author. His latest, "Love and Summer," is on order; The New Times Book review ends with this statement: "Love and Summer," the latest item from his venerable suitcase, is a thrilling work of art."
Cynthia Davidson
Didn't seem believable to me, where Felicia ends up.
Maybe the male author doesn't realize how resourceful women can be.
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William Trevor, KBE grew up in various provincial towns and attended a number of schools, graduating from Trinity College, in Dublin, with a degree in history. He first exercised his artistry as a sculptor, working as a teacher in Northern Ireland and then emigrated to England in search of work when the school went bankrupt. He could have returned to Ireland once he became a successful writer, he...more
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