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Felicia's Journey

3.67  ·  Rating details ·  3,230 ratings  ·  383 reviews
Felicia is unmarried, pregnant, and penniless. She steals away from a small Irish town and drifts through the industrial English Midlands, searching for the boyfriend who left her. Instead she meets up with the fat, fiftyish, unfailingly reasonable Mr. Hilditch, who is looking for a new friend to join the five other girls in his Memory Lane. But the strange, sad, terrifyin ...more
Paperback, 212 pages
Published January 1st 1996 by Penguin Books (first published 1994)
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Jim Fonseca
May 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
Not your usual Trevor. A bit of a mystery and almost noir.

A young woman in Ireland takes the ferry to England searching for the father of her unborn baby. He may (or may not) be “working in a lawnmower factory” in the Midlands as he said. Or, as is rumored, he may be in the British army, a travesty according to the woman’s family. The great-grandmother who lives with them lost a son and a husband to “The Troubles” and spends her time caretaking a memorial scrapbook, so this family is very anti-E
Nov 07, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, irish
Her mourning is to wonder.

The storyline immediately catches the eye: a teenage Irish girl abandons her family, leaves her hometown, and crosses over to England to find the elusive lover who impregnated her during a brief encounter they had had at home. In England, without knowing the whereabouts of the man and all by herself, she falls prey to one Mr. Hilditch, a middle-aged predator with a dark past who maintains a respectable social profile. This, then, becomes the story of her loss and s
Aug 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
Deliberate, precise, and suffused with dread, this novel explores the lies we all tell ourselves and each other, and how much we're willing to do in the name of our shabby little fantasies.
Dec 16, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is my final book from the Mookse Madness list, and is perhaps the most difficult of them to assess and review (there are 64 books on the list, but I had read 43 of them before it was announced). As always Trevor's prose is immaculate, and he shows great empathy for his characters while subjecting them to hideous torments.

Initially the story appears to be that of Felicia, an innocent 17-year old Irish girl who becomes pregnant by Johnny Lysaght, a slightly older man who works in England and
Sep 19, 2019 added it
Shelves: ireland, 20th-century

An interesting occurrence happened on the way to the fair: Alice Munro and Stephen King, neither watching where they were going, collided into each other, with paper notes flying high and wild. When all the pages had settled on the lawn and been re-gathered by their respective authors, each walked away with a bundled manuscript, not realizing that their pages had become enmeshed in each other's work. Result: William Trevor, story-teller extraordinaire!

Oh. My. What a wondrous web he weaves!
K.D. Absolutely
Nov 08, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  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, drama, 501
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
William Trevor is considered by many to be one of the most important figures in contemporary Irish literature, and I came across opinions which named Felicia's Journey as one of his best novels. Since Trevor is an author who has authored many, this was the one I decided to read to begin my acquaintance with his work. It turned out to be a strange mix - I picked it up expecting a literary musing on the human condition, and got it; but I also read a book which is at its heart a thriller. A slow-pa ...more
Jul 14, 2010 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2010
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
Jayaprakash Satyamurthy
Jul 08, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jayaprakash by:
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)
Apr 06, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
Aug 17, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Description: For three decades William Trevor has been "one of the best writers at work in our language" (Boston Globe). Now, in a stunning progression, Trevor weds his literary art to hypnotic psychological suspense in a page-turner that will magnetize fans of Hitchcock and of Ruth Rendell at her most laconically chilling.
'Happy Birthday Darling
Love Seán x'
That is the insciption on the inside cover. But the pages have never been opened. The dust cover shows that this book has been moved fro
Dera Weaver
Jun 12, 2009 rated it really liked it
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
Oct 17, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
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
Hannah Rae
Feb 28, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a book that I bought years ago, tried to read, couldn't get into, and then picked up again just the other day. Did it suck me in this time? Kind of... I mean, I found myself thinking about Felicia while eating breakfast in the morning and then driving to work. Later, as I got to know Mr. Hilditch better, I became really concerned for Felicia. I couldn't put the book down--I had to know what was going to happen--but I didn't actually enjoy the book (if that makes sense).

Mr. Hilditch made
Gord Higginson
Apr 01, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Claire Fuller
3.5 stars. I much prefer Trevor's novels that are completely set in Ireland. They have a lovely tone which I thought this one was lacking. It is about an Irish girl, but most of it is set in England when she comes over to search for the father of her unborn child. She finds all sorts of (creepy) people along the way. The quotes on the back talked about a 'plot twist', which I didn't find very startling, and I had trouble really believing in Felicia as a character until the very end.
Feb 07, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: irish-studies
Incredibly well written. Haunting, but to date the only book that I have read where I physically threw the book, repulsed by the character.
Will Tate
Sep 02, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Aug 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Dec 13, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this in preparation for the 2019 Mookse Madness. It is the first book I've read by William Trevor. I really enjoyed it, creepy as it was. I had read nothing about this book in advance of starting it. The hardcover was on the used books at one of my local bookstores for $7, so I grabbed it.

Felicia is the first person we meet, as she is on the ferry from Northern Ireland to England and vomiting. It doesn't take long for it to register that Felicia is pregnant and has left home, "borrowing"
Aug 28, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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
Jan 02, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
Mar 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
4.5 stars. A sinister, eerie, mysterious, surreal, stylish, melancholic, interesting, very well written thriller of a story about two very different individuals. Mr. Hilditch, in his 50s, is a catering manager in a Midlands factory. He is an only child. He is a very fat, odd, creepy, deceitful, mixed up man. He is also friendly, helpful and a very good listener. He goes out of his way to befriend lonely, down and out young women. Felicia, aged 17(?) and pregnant, has left her family in Ireland t ...more
Oct 06, 2013 rated it really liked it
Felicia is a young, pregnant Irishwoman just arrived in England to locate the father of her child. Her family back at home, proud of their history in the Irish battles for independence, are enraged about her condition and suspicious that her boyfriend is in the British Army. Her boyfriend's mother hates her and refuses to give his address in England. She has only the information he told her when they were together, that he sells lawnmowers at a factory that produces them, and the name of an Engl ...more
Apr 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
An intriguing read about two very different people whose paths collide. Initially I was unsure about the time period the tale was set in, expecting it to be 1950ish what with the "small town" attitude to unmarried mothers & the descriptions of Mr Hilditch's appearance, which made me visualise someone out of an Ealing film. References to 1986 brought it up to a more recent date - indeed it was written in 1994 - so maybe the fact that the views seemed very dated is a sign on how much our society h ...more
Jul 21, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: novels
reading through my 1995 notebook, came across this:
Felicia's Journay - Trevor writes so well that the lines slip by easily, only later you realise what information is loaded in them. An old story: a pregnant, sheltered Irsih teenager comes to England to search for her boyfreind. All she knows is he works in a lawnmower factory. Gets caught up with down and outs, religious nutters and a sinister seemingly polite and solicitous chap. The book is filled with brand names, shopping arcades, heroin ad
Oct 02, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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.
Jul 30, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A story of a pregnant Irish girl who helplessly roamed the English Midlands in search of her lover. Trevor juxtaposed Felicia's innocence with Hilditch's premeditated and strangely benign violence. A psychological thriller so subtle it takes you by surprise and leaves you in shock. Exquisitely written.
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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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