William Trevor, Author . Viking $24.95 (244p) ISBN 978-0-670-03343-0

The protagonists of this haunting, emotionally bleak collection of stories—a new widow confessing to two surprised Legion of Mary sisters the secrets of her marriage to a hateful man in "Sitting with the Dead"; a woman stalked by her lonely, possibly violent ex-husband in "On the Streets"; an heiress who compulsively recounts her tragic life story to total strangers in "Solitude"; and a couple who exploit each other on a blind date in "An Evening Out"—are generally 50-ish, usually childless and almost always burdened by regret over relationships decayed or forgone. They live in the aftermath of irremediable mistakes, ruefully cognizant that hope and romance are often delusory covers for self-interest and survival. Even the young—an 18-year-old girl who weeps with regret over future betrayals, an Irish woman who calls off her wedding after realizing she loves the dream of America more than her intended—are melancholy and introspective. Trevor reveals his native Ireland as a world sandwiched between modernity and its accompanying wealth, secularism and vulgarity, and a past that was more soulful and pious but also more restrictive. The much-lauded Trevor (Felicia's Journey ; The Story of Lucy Gault ; etc.) explores the many sources and shadings of regret with his usual delicate but brilliant psychological nuance, brightened occasionally by nostalgia for the lost love that once impelled his characters forward. Agent, Peter Matson at Sterling Lord Literistic . (Oct.)

Reviewed on: 08/16/2004
Release date: 10/01/2004
Genre: Fiction
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