Last Stories

Though his fans can hope for the discovery of a posthumous trove of William Trevor short stories, barring that happy event they'll have to take the title of this collection at face value and enjoy the offering of 10 new tales--three of them previously unpublished--from a 20th-century master of the form.
These muted stories, the majority of them set in England, where the Irish-born Trevor (Love & Summer) spent most of this life, are noteworthy less for their dramatic action than for his keenly observed depiction of melancholy protagonists longing for something that's missing from their lives. Representative of that quality is "An Idyll in Winter," in which a man named Anthony reconnects with a woman he tutored years earlier as a teenager at her home on the Yorkshire moors. Now married and a father, he must confront his deep affection for her, while she understands she was "living in the past, that the past would always be there, around her, that she was part of it herself."
Also among the most moving stories is "Giotto's Angels." The protagonist is an aging prostitute who encounters a man suffering from an "amnesic abnormality" in a bar. When she accompanies him to his flat, she discovers that he's a skilled art restorer, in the process of unearthing a cache of money he's almost certainly forgotten himself.
Noteworthy for their striking openings and sometimes enigmatic endings, these stories fully embody Trevor's artistic gifts. His graceful writing and sharp insight into the tragic dimensions of human existence make this collection a fitting testament to a long and distinguished career. --Harvey Freedenberg, freelance reviewer
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