Whitbread Award-winner Trevor's first novel for young readers is metafictional: it is a story about telling stories. Juliet, an Irish girl from County Tipperary, loves Paddy Old's tales, particularly a peculiar one about a man who has no story of his own--until a malicious piece of beef on a spit gives him one to tell. When Paddy dies, Juliet feels lost, but her grief slowly dissipates when her Grandmamma takes her on a fanciful trip from Dublin to the south of France. Along the way she tells Juliet her own unique stories (included here), and while Juliet finds an uncanny affinity with the protagonists, she still sighs, ``I wish I had a story of my own.'' When she meets a toymaker on the beach in France, her wish begins to come true. Trevor has a wonderful knack for whimsical detail and gentle observation, and his sophisticated understanding of the powers of narrative is sheer pleasure. Ages 9-13. (June)
School Library Journal
Gr 4-6-Through vibrant characters and expressive language, this acclaimed author's first novel for children explores the magic of storytelling. Juliet loves listening to Paddy Old, the village storyteller in County Tipperary. The elderly man says that everyone has a story, but Juliet is worried that she doesn't. When he dies, her grandmother takes her on a trip across Great Britain to France, hoping that she can work through her grief. Stories are told along the way, which makes the journey seem shorter and helps Juliet begin to resolve her feelings. Her travel is a heroic journey of sorts. She meets a toymaker who helps her save some trout from the hotel dining room and gives Juliet something that is hers to tell. She returns home triumphant, knowing that wherever stories are, she will find them, make them her own, and share them with the next generation. She has taken up where Paddy Old left off. She has been allowed to grieve and comes to accept Paddy Old's death in her own way. The stories allow her to observe life from a safe distance and recognize parallels to her own life as she is ready. This novel is interesting enough to recommend for reluctant readers, and would make a great read-aloud.-Cheri Estes, Dorchester Road Regional Library, Charleston, SC
A great Irish writer tells a contemporary children's story without nostalgia or condescension. It's a quiet novel, simply told, about a girl in Tipperary who loves listening to stories. She finds them in dreams and in real events and in things people said. As she travels with her grandmother on the train and across the sea, Juliet realizes that stories made the world go around; they connect her with the people around her. The tales that are woven into the narrativefrom fairy tale to realistic comedyare rich with character. In the end Juliet finds her own adventure and makes it happen, and she does it with spirit and style, just like the stories she knows she will write one day. Not for readers who want swashbuckling adventure, this will speak to those who find secrets and surprises in daily life. Everyone has a story.
Known for moving, haunting novels such as Felicia's Journey and Fools of Fortune, Irish author William Trevor is also known as a master of the short story genre. As the New York Times Book Review noted, Trevor "moves between the short story and the novel; Irish settings and English; the capitalized Troubles of his native land and the personal lowercase ones of his characters." He does so with unwavering skill.
"William Trevor is an extraordinarily mellifluous writer, seemingly incapable of composing an ungraceful sentence," Brooke Adams once wrote in the New York Times Book Review. Hailed by the New Yorker as "probably the greatest living writer of short stories in the English language," Trevor has also written over a dozen acclaimed novels as well as several plays. His characters are often people whose desires have been unfulfilled, and who come to rely on various forms of self-deception and fantasy to make their lives bearable.
Trevor was born in 1928 to a middle-class, Protestant family in Ireland. After graduating from Trinity College with a degree in history, he attempted to carve out a career as a sculptor. He moved to England in 1954 and exhibited his sculptures there; he also wrote his first novel, A Standard of Behavior, which was published in 1958 but met with little critical success. His second novel, The Old Boys, won the 1964 Hawthornden Prize for Literature and marked the beginning of a long and prolific career as a novelist, short-story writer and playwright.
Three of Trevor's novels have won the prestigious Whitbread Novel of the Year Award: The Children of Dynmouth, Fools of Fortune and Felicia's Journey. Felicia's Journey, about a pregnant Irish girl who goes to England to find the lover who abandoned her, was adapted for the screen in 1999 by director Atom Egoyan. Trevor, who has described himself as a short-story writer who enjoys writing novels, has also written such celebrated short stories as "Three People," in which a woman who murdered her disabled sister harbors an unspoken longing for the man who provided her with an alibi, and "The Mourning," about a young man who is pressed by political activists into planting a bomb (both from The Hill Bachelors).
Some critics have noted a change in Trevor's work over the years: his early stories tend to contain comic sketches of England, while his later ones describe Ireland with the elegiac tone of an expatriate. Trevor, who now lives in Devon, England, has suggested that he has something of an outsider's view of both countries. "I feel a sense of freshness when I come back [to Ireland]," he said in a 2000 Irish radio interview. "If I lived in, say, Dungarvan or Skibbereen, I think I wouldn't notice things."
As it stands, Trevor is clearly a writer who notices things, just as one of his characters notices "the glen and the woods and the seashore, the flat rocks where the shrimp pools were, the room she woke up in, the chatter of the hens in the yard, the gobbling of the turkeys, her footsteps the first marks on the sand when she walked to Kilauran to school" (The Story of Lucy Gault). Yet as Trevor told an interviewer for The Irish Times, "You mustn't write about what you know. You must use your imagination. Fiction is an act of the imagination." Trevor's fertile imagination captures, as Alice McDermott wrote in The Atlantic, "the terrible beauty of Ireland's fate, and the fate of us all -- at the mercy of history, circumstance, and the vicissitudes of time."
Good To Know
When Trevor was growing up, he wanted to be a clerk in the Bank of Ireland -- following in the footsteps of his father, James William Cox. Cox's career as a bank manager took the family all over Ireland, and Trevor attended over a dozen different schools before entering Trinity College in Dublin.
Trevor married his college sweetheart, Jane Ryan, in 1952. After the birth of their first son, Trevor worked for a time as an advertising copywriter in London. He also sculpted and worked as an art teacher, but gave up his sculpting after it became "too abstract."
In addition to the 1999 film Felicia's Journey, two other movies have been based on Trevor's works: Fools of Fortune (1990), directed by Pat O'Connor, and Attracta (1983), directed by Kieran Hickey. According to Trevor's agent, the plays Reading Turgenev and My House in Umbria are also being adapted for the screen.
Trevor is also the author of several plays, most of which are not in print in the U.S. Works include Scenes from an Album, Marriages, and Autumn Sunshine.