It's summer and nothing much is happening in Rathmoye. So it doesn't go unnoticed when a dark-haired stranger appears on his bicycle and begins photographing the mourners at Mrs. Connulty's funeral. Florian Kilderry couldn't know that the Connultys are said to own half the town: he has only come to Rathmoye to photograph the scorched remains of its burnt- out cinema.
A few miles out in the country, Dillahan, a farmer and a decent man, has married again: Ellie is the young convent girl who came to work for him when he was widowed. Ellie leads a quiet, routine life, often alone while Dillahan runs the farm.
Florian is planning to leave Ireland and start over. Ellie is settled in her new role as Dillahan's wife. But Florian's visit to Rathmoye introduces him to Ellie, and a dangerously reckless attachment begins.
In a characteristically masterly way Trevor evokes the passions and frustrations felt by Ellie and Florian, and by the people of a small Irish town during one long summer.
- New York Times Notable Books of the Year
The tragic consequences of a woman's lost honor and a family's shame haunt several generations in Trevor's masterful 14th novel. His prose precisely nuanced and restrained, Trevor depicts a society beginning to loosen itself from the Church's implacable condemnation of sexual immorality. Years ago, Miss Connulty's dragon of a mother forced her into lifelong atonement after she was abandoned by her lover. Now, in the mid-1950s, middle-aged and forever marked for spinsterhood in her small Irish town, she is intent on protecting Ellie Dillahan, the na?ve young wife of an older farmer. A foundling raised by nuns, Ellie was sent to housekeep for the widowed farmer, and she is content until her dormant emotions are awakened by a charming but feckless bachelor, Florian Kilderry, who has plans to soon leave Ireland. Their affair is bittersweet, evoking Florian's regretful knowledge that he will cause heartbreak and Ellie's shy but urgent passion and culminating in a surprising resolution. Trevor renders the fictional town of Rathmoye with the precise detail of a photograph, while his portrait of its inhabitants is more subtle and painterly, suggesting their interwoven secrets, respectful traditions and stoic courtesy. (Sept.)
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September 14, 2009
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