cover image Two Lives

Two Lives

William Trevor. Viking Books, $21.95 (384pp) ISBN 978-0-670-83933-9

One of our modern masters, Trevor ( Fools of Fortune ; Family Sins ) is in top form with this exquisite pair of mirroring narratives. The first novella, ``Reading Turgenev,'' is the story of a woman who, denied love in her marriage, turns to a half-imaginary romance with a cousin who reads Turgenev to her in a cemetery; later, she desolately retreats into the shadowy world of her memories and desires. ``My House in Umbria'' is a first-person narrative about an aging writer of romances with a mysterious past whose fiction exhibits resolution and a kind of tranquility. A passenger on a train attacked by terrorists, the writer takes in a group of fellow survivors of the blast. Their healing becomes cathartic for her, bringing elements of her past to the surface. The two lives thus limned provide a balanced pair of portraits, one of a woman who avoids reality and the other of one who confronts it. Told in Trevor's graceful, evocative language, these narratives are further evidence of the author's sublime grasp of the complexities of human relationships. (Sept.)