My House in Umbria
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My House in Umbria

3.49 of 5 stars 3.49  ·  rating details  ·  237 ratings  ·  35 reviews
Mrs. Emily Delahunty-a mysterious and not entirely trustworthy former madam-quietly runs a pensione in the Italian countryside and writes romance novels while she muses on her checkered past. Then one day her world is changed forever as the train she is riding in is blown up by terrorists. Taken to a local hospital to recuperate, she befriends the other survivors-an elderl...more
Paperback, 160 pages
Published March 15th 2003 by Penguin Books (first published 1991)
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My House in Umbria is the first Trevor novella I had a bit of trouble engaging with the plot and characterization. Mrs Emily Delahunty, a 56-year-old woman with a less than respectable past, had re-invented and installed herself in an enchanting villa by the Italian countryside. Here she ran a pensione business with the help of her servant, Quinty, whose acquaintance hailed back to her life at the Café Rose in Ombubu, Africa, and who knew about her checkered origins. Perhaps as an escape from he...more
There was some good writing in this, but it honestly felt a bit muddled for my tastes. I can go for ambiguity, but I didn't care for the muddling as much. It felt like some of the concepts were supposed to carry it and if you didn't react to them enough as concepts then they didn't bear the necessary weight. It's still good writing, but just not something I cared for as much.
Do not confuse this book with books such as "Under the Tuscan Sun" or "A Year in Provence." This book, although set in the Italian countryside, is really a character study. The narrator is one of several survivors of a bombed train car who, under some plot contrivance, all gather to recuperate at the titled House in Umbria. This book demands all of your concentration as the narrator is given to digressions which may, or may not, be relevant to the plot line. Do not assume that the fact that Magg...more
"A garden should have little gardens tucked away inside it. It should have alcoves and secret places, and paths that make you want to take them even though they don't lead anywhere. What grows well, cherish. What doesn't, you throw out." (118)

B and I are having a couple days long conversation about 'hard women' -- alice munro, lorrie moore and the other unflinching girls who remember and list the offenses against their characters. Munro has some softness to her -- she writes the occasional love...more
I had such high hopes for this book. It seemed so good from the blurb on the back. But he problem is, I found it rather meandering, and I couldn't really understand what the author was getting at. What is this book really about? I'm still unsure. Plus I started to really dislike Mrs Delahunty and the way she forced herself on Mr Riversmith. It was uncomfortable to read. Perhaps that was the point, but it was a major turn-off for me, especially as she felt she was doing nothing wrong. A strange b...more
This book is set in Umbria, Italy at a somewhat rundown home that Emily Delahunty rents to tourists. This time her lodgers are survivors from a terrorist attack on a train. Emily generously offers them a place to convalesce and grieve. Brought together as strangers, as they begin to recover their layers are revealed.

Emily, a romance novelist and a woman with a past is longtime friends with Quinty who takes care of her home and the business side of things. Aimee, a young girl recovering from the...more
I found it well written and intruiging however at times I got confused. I'm not sure if this has to do with the writing specificly or Mrs Delahunty as the narrator since she obviously has some issues.
Jul 25, 2008 Maggie rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2008
Don't let the size of this book fool you. All 151 pages will require all of your attention.
I love William Trevor and his understated way of letting us get up close to his characters and yet maintain a certain aura around him he never disappoints me in that he can make the mundane look and feel ever so real and true to life in all it's pain and glory.

This novel was no exception. We meet some wonderful human characters wide open to their flaws, who are thrown together in life through a terrorist attack on a train they were all traveling on. They come together in a house in Umbria to try...more
Joy H.
Added 11/19/11.
I did not read this book but watched the movie adaptation instead via a Netflix DVD:
"My House in Umbria" (TV 2003)

There's a wonderful film review (by David Wiegand of the San Francisco Chronicle) at:
"Very little seems lost in this lovely adaptation of William Trevor's 1991 short novel, premiering Sunday on HBO, thanks in no...more
Melissa Prange
After a terrorist attack on a train, three survivors return with Mrs. Delahunty to her house in Umbria. The survivors include a German, an old man, and a little girl. Each have lost loved ones in the attack and each are attempting to work their way back to life as they recuperate at Mrs. Delahunty’s home. The two men are rejuvenated by caring for the little girl, but, unfortunately, all of their lives are thrown back into upheaval when the girl’s uncle arrives—intending to return to America with...more
I had really high expectations for this book and must admit that I was somewhat disappointed. While the length of the book (150 pages) did not seem a daunting task for me in the beginning, I found it harder and harder to pick this up and want to read it. This book is more of a character study of an old washed out romance novelist Emily Delahunty. Throughout most of the book I found her to be completely fascinating while at others, I just wanted to smack her. I do love the way that the plot revol...more
Louise (A Strong Belief in Wicker)
My first William Trevor, and I'm keen to read more of his work after this first taste. I read this just a few weeks after watching the movie on tv (which I loved), so I had Maggie Smith's voice and image really reading the story in my head. Which isn't all bad. I enjoyed the book overall but did find it confusing at times when he would flip flop back and forward between past, present and dream. Sometimes it was really obvious and that's fine, other times I had to read it several times to try and...more
This short, delicately written novel contains a big story full of abandonment, incest, prostitution, a bombed train, alcoholism, and deceit, but blink and you'll miss it. The voice of the narrator starts out so sure and is so inviting that it's easy to miss hints that her perspective isn't necessarily trustworthy. Her slow unspooling of information about herself, paired with her disintigration, culminates without high drama and goes out on a note of wistfulness. Trevor's writing is balanced and...more
Jan 26, 2014 Liz rated it 1 of 5 stars
Shelves: fiction
This was one of the most depressing books I have ever read…..and I have read my share of depressing books. I was enticed into thinking that this was one of Trevor's less depressing books by the cute Maggie Smith picture and the scenery on the cover. But it was very bleak and while Trevor is a beautiful writer, and the narrative voice is certainly amazing, it was not worth the dirge like conclusions. Is there another Trevor book to try that is not totally disheartening? I can take negative but no...more
It's good. One of his other books, Fools of Fortune, was chosen for my f2f book club. This one came available first, so I started it. At first I thought it was going to be a nice little 'and then' story, but it took a couple wollapping plot changes and got way complicated, interesting and fun to read.

I'm enjoying the writing talent here. I gasp in joy at the word usage!!
I had high hopes for this book, but sadly it failed. The main character jumps between her conscious state, book plot writing, memories,etc without any way to really understand that you are in them until the thought or memory ends - really frustrating. I wish the author chose to put those flashbacks in a different font or in italics or something. I heard the movie is better...
I am now officially a William Trevor fan. This book, however, is pretty close to the bone just now, dealing with the survivors of what seems to be a terrorist bombing on a train in Italy. Like Lucy Gault, the main character is a solitary woman with damage in her past. Trevor peels off layers as memories surface.
Jan 09, 2014 NC rated it 1 of 5 stars
Shelves: fiction
awful, don't know why I stuck it out. It sounded good from the flap.
Andrea Dowd
"My House in Umbria" is a short novel set in Italy in the mid-1980s. A group of people affected by a terrorist bomb on a train gather at one of the survivor's home in Umbria to recover. It is a moving and timely story to read months after the bombing in Boston.
I'm still waiting for the Trevor novel I don't like. Not as good as Turganev or Lucy Gault but it still a beautiful work. He observes life closer than anyone writing today (I stole that...and I believe it's accurate, and it's been a long day so just read the f'n book)
I still have a peculiar taste in my mouth from this book. It was kind of like eating a vegetable that you know is good (and good for you) but the taste is very off putting and you find you really don't like it.

Well written but ...
Started the book; listened to others discuss the book; watched the movie; finished the book. Somehow this reminds me so of "Night of the Iguana" by Tennessee Williams. Such damaged people, but aren't we all?
a great, mysterious and melancholic story about suffering, loss, and guilt, and the ambiguity and ambivalence one encounters when sounding the depths of the human person.
A train journey in Italy sparks devastation, but a new purpose for one passenger - Mrs Delahunty. Stars Prunella Scales.
After not reading it, going to book club and hearing their (not great) opinion of it, I don't think I'm going to bother. I watched the movie...I'm good.
Purchased this from a little bookshop in Siena and was charmed by the book's description of Siena's El Campo. Luscious writing.
I loved this short book. Great story line, with the added delights of views from the Italian countryside. Loved it.
I still think Trevor is a good writer and may try other books by him, but this story is beyond strange.
Steve Ewing
Interesting book, and the writing style was unique to me. The ending needs some work, but liked it overall.
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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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