Felicia's Journey

Felicia's Journey

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by William Trevor

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Mr. Hilditch is fiftyish, neighborly, with a pleasant smile. But he's got a chilling pastime: killing women. Left lonely by the loss -- or disappearance -- of his five young women "friends," Mr. Hilditch looks for a new friend.

He lures Felicia -- unsuspecting, pregnant and abandoned by her boyfriend. Neither suspects the terrifying tricks of chance that lie in wait

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Mr. Hilditch is fiftyish, neighborly, with a pleasant smile. But he's got a chilling pastime: killing women. Left lonely by the loss -- or disappearance -- of his five young women "friends," Mr. Hilditch looks for a new friend.

He lures Felicia -- unsuspecting, pregnant and abandoned by her boyfriend. Neither suspects the terrifying tricks of chance that lie in wait.

"Ripples with irony and crawls with menace." (Sunday Express)

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Trevor, long admired for his trenchant stories and novels, his subtle humor and broad compassion, retains all those virtues in his deeply absorbing new novel and adds a degree of narrative tension he has not shown before. Felicia is a poor, plain, rather simple Irish girl made pregnant by the first boy to bed her, who then promptly disappears to England, leaving no address. When she abandons her taciturn family to look for him, her only thought is to be reunited with a lover. But she meets portly, self-delighted Mr. Hilditch, catering manager at a factory in the grimy English Midlands, who shows her unexpected kindness, even helps arrange an abortion for her; after all, he's been a good friend to so many other lost girls, hasn't he? Wary of him at first, then resigned, finally increasingly anxious as she wonders what became of his other friends, Felicia picks her numb way among psychological minefields. What happens to her and to Mr. Hilditch, in the brilliantly evoked setting of dank cafes and pubs, homeless wanderers, revivalists and bus trips to stately homes, is the stuff of nightmare; not cynically created, but one born of deep understanding and piercing truth. This is a thriller lifted to the level of high art, and it should win Trevor many new admirers. BOMC selection. (Jan.)
Library Journal
Felicia, a young Irish woman who seems doomed to a life of cooking and cleaning for her family, finds her drab existence transformed when Johnny Lysaght, a childhood friend, returns from England for a visit. After a few idyllic days, Johnny departs unexpectedly, before Felicia can ask for his address. When she discovers that she is pregnant, Felicia sets off to find him, knowing only that he works at a lawn mower factory in the Midlands. Frightened, sick, and confused by the strange accents, Felicia is befriended by a kindly older man named Hilditch, who offers her a place to sleep when her money is stolen. What she doesn't realize is that Hilditch stole the money himself, in order to force her to accept his hospitality. Trevor, whose Collected Stories was named one of the best books of 1993 by the New York Times Book Review, has written a taut psychological thriller with an unusually effective surprise ending, reminiscent of Patricia Highsmith's best work. Highly recommended. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 9/15/94.]-Edward B. St. John, Loyola Law Sch. Lib., Los Angeles
Donna Seaman
Trevor is revered, and rightly so, as a master of lyrical and psychologically sophisticated fiction. His prose is crystalline and his characters richly imagined, but none of his work will reverberate as strongly as this, his twentieth book. Here Trevor has slipped away from the rarefied world he has explored in the past and infiltrated territory we would usually associate with the thrillers of Hitchcock or the novels of Ruth Rendell. The story begins in a small Irish town where an innocent young girl is seduced by a rogue who claims to work at a lawn-mower factory in England. Pregnant and distraught, she runs away to find her errant lover. As soon as she arrives, she comes to the attention of Mr. Hilditch, a fastidious fat man with tiny hands who, now that mother is dead, lives alone. The enigmatic Mr. Hilditch is as interested in troubled young women as he is in food and soon contrives to assist Felicia in her quest. She reluctantly accepts a ride, then goes off on her own, but after a series of disasters, including a brief interlude with a cult of religious fanatics, Felicia ends up, once again, accepting Hilditch's kindness, although she, and we, have a very bad feeling about him. As they circle round each other like a cautious quarry and a nervous hunter, Trevor holds us rapt with curiosity and fear. All this is as creepy, brilliant, and involving as one could desire, but it is the novel's unbelievably moving conclusion that gives it wings and lifts it far, far above the ordinary, taking our breath away.
From the Publisher
"Brooding, brilliant...One of the most evocative and original books to be published in recent years...Trevor weaves a web of suspense and apprehension that is at once terrifying and believable." —The London Free Press

"In reading this rich, riveting novel, the reader basks in the glow of Trevor's compassion and the consummate integrity of his pure poetic skills." —The Globe and Mail

"Perfectly executed and chilling...Mr. Trevor is able to turn the stuff of lurid, tabloid headlines into a sad and oddly moving tale of lost opportunities and misplaced hopes." —The New York Times

Product Details

Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
6.29(w) x 9.32(h) x 0.86(d)

Read an Excerpt


William Trevor has long been hailed as one of the "very best writers of our era" (The Washington Post). In both his short stories and his novels, Trevor manages to shed light on the darkest corners of the human heart. It is no surprise, then, that with Felicia's Journey Trevor uses his gifts as a master storyteller—spare, lyrical prose; a tightly woven story; and finely drawn characters—to turn out this psychological thriller.



William Trevor is the author of twenty-eight books, which include novels, short story collections, a play, a volume of memoir, and a children's tale. Among his many prizes are a 1996 Lannan Literary Award for Fiction. Two of his books were chosen by The New York Times as Best Books of the Year. His short stories appear regularly in The New Yorker.



Felicia's story is sad, but one that is all too common. Many young, pregnant Irish girls travel to England either to terminate a pregnancy or simply to escape the shame that is visited upon them by their families and communities. There was a very famous and controversial case in 1992 of a fourteen-year-old Irish girl who traveled to England to have an abortion. Did this particular story influence the writing of Felicia's Journey



Meet the Author

William Trevor was born in Cork in 1928.  He was educated at Trinity College, Dublin, and has spent a great part of his life in Ireland.  Since his first novel, The Old Boys, was awarded the Hawthorne Prize in 1964, he has received many honours for his work including the Royal Society of Literature Award, the allied Irish Banks Prize for Literature and the Whitbread Prize for fiction.  He is a member of the Irish Academy of Letters and he has bee awarded an Honorary CBE.  His most recent books are Two Lives and The Collected Stories of William Trevor.

Brief Biography

Devon, England
Date of Birth:
May 24, 1928
Place of Birth:
Mitchelstown, County Cork, Ireland
Trinity College, Dublin, 1950

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Felicia's Journey 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Swaraswati More than 1 year ago
The stalker patiently and slyly entrapped his prey. It was just a matter of when and where; not if. The novel Felicia's Journey is a fascinating look into the mind of an outwardly seemingly normal man who adeptly covered up inner demons. Set in pre-birth control days, Felicia was thrust into the painful situation of being a pregnant teenager. With few clues regarding the whereabouts of the father of her baby, she left her homeland of Ireland and fled to England. Her story unravels as the reader becomes more and more interested in Felicia's fate.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Simply out standing, if there were better words to describe this book I would say them. The characters were portrayed perfectly as well as the plot. I won't go into any details of this book because it is a greater excitement going into a book knowing nothing.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
I am unable to understand what the fuss is about this book. Nor can I understand for what reason it won the Whitbread Prize in 1994. Set in in the present tense it is daring but slow and mired in detail of surroundings.Trevor is master of those things that are banal and that we perform subconsciously everyday like the dipping of a biscuit into tea. In the slowness of the book tension is built and it's true that Felicia's Journey does read very close to the lines of a thriller.But it falls outside that in it's close apposition to the minds of the two main characters and other characters.This is the question that I beg to ask: does fine literature have to look to serial killers and those psychopaths that we would not rather talk about to find it's theme ? I was under the impression that this was the domain of thrillers and bestsellers. Not to put too fine a word on it , do I dare say that Felicia's Journey is common? Obviously not. That is not to say that, however , that I do not appreciate the difference that William Trevor adds to this theme.The only thing is if I had known I would have won the Whitbread Prize I would have written it earlier or wasn't it wriiten earlier when Thomas Harris wrote Red Dragon, Silence of the Lambs ... and Hannibal?