Frank's Reviews > Love and Summer

Love and Summer by William Trevor
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's review
Jun 21, 2009

it was amazing
bookshelves: irish-authors
Read from October 27 to 28, 2011 — I own a copy , read count: Three

Love and Summer finds William Trevor on familiar ground: it's summer in rural Ireland of the 1950s, a small Munster town that serves the needs of the surrounding farms of land, when the deprivations of the Emergency are fading to memory and one can still get change for a ten-shilling note at the Cash and Carry. Ellie Dillahan is a young farm wife, a foundling placed by the nuns who raised her as housekeeper for a widowed smallholder; a man she marries out of a sense of compassion and gratitude, duty and mutual dependence.

"Nothing happend in Rathmoye, its people said, but most of them went on living there. It was the young who left—for Dublin or Cork or Limerick, for England, sometimes for America. A lot came back. That nothing happened was an exaggeration..."

What happens to Ellie is that she meets a man; a lonely, quiet man who excites in her the possibilities that life might offer. This is a quiet book, filled with characters who have had their individual heartaches and frustrations but in general expect little and are not disappointed. Mr. Trevor captures the rhythms and pitch of a lost Ireland, obliterated by television and Celtic Tigers and subsidies from Brussels. The story is elegiac, but not sentimental; an elegy for lost loves, for late summers of memory, for lives atuned to the seasonal repetitions of farm and pasture.

A marvelous book.

An emendation, 31 May 2010. Like most of the other reviewers, both here and in print, I stated the the novel takes place in the 1950s. However there is in one of the final paragraphs the following line: "In Hurley Lane Bernadette O'Keefe turned off a romantic drama...the bright little screen, and night-caps, made a party of the room..." I suppose that "bright little screen" could have been the dial of the raidogram (wireless), but it seems more likely to be a television set. If that is the case, that it's a television set, RTÉ (Ireland's national broadcasting system) didn't begin television transmission until 31 December 1961. According to Wikipædia, "By the end of the 1950s 60% of the population [of Ireland:] could receive BBC 1 and the UK's Channel 3 franchise from spillover from Northern Ireland, Wales and the west of England". However, as we assume this story is set in Trevor's native Co. Cork (although unstated in the novel), Cork would have been outside that range geographically, that is among the 40% of the island immune from "spillover". A small point, perhaps; by 21st-Century measures, Ireland of the 1950s of '60s would not (on a whole) have seemed that much different. Just an observation.

Another emendation (with another reading), 28 October 2011. It takes place in Tipperary; the "local" paper is from Nenagh.
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09/01/2009 page 202

Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

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Suzanne Loved your review.

Frank Thank you.

Wayne Courtois I was also curious about when the story takes place. A clue that I picked up on came from one of Florian's 'Fieldbook' entries, in which he mentions a character obsessed with the movie 'Circus of Horrors.' That movie was released in 1960, which means that, if Florian was a teenager when he wrote that entry, then the novel most likely takes place in the 1970's.

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