Review of A Bit on the Side by William Trevor

Published 03/09/2011 by damselwithadulcimer

Reading William Trevor is like coming back home to a warm fire and a pair of comfy slippers. He is a gifted story-teller, especially of short stories; less is more. He crafts his characters, both physically and psychologically, and their emotions, using the fewest number of words possible. He moves easily from Ireland to England, but his turns of phrase and use of idioms and vernacular leave the reader in no doubt where each story is set. In stories like ‘Justina’s Priest’ he has no need to explain that she is backward; he has already made that clear to the reader without needing to spell it out. You find yourself under the skins of many of the characters, sometimes they arouse sympathy, sometimes annoyance and sometimes just pity. But the effect, as with many of his other stories, both short and long, is of a modern day Chekhov. You experience an ache and a longing for what has been missed or what could have been avoided.

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