Three Early Novels: The Old Boys / The Boarding-House /

Three Early Novels: The Old Boys / The Boarding-House / The Love Department William Trevor s Last Stories is forthcoming from Viking Three novels by a master craftsman and a deep creative talent The TimesLondon In his first novel, The Old Boys, a group of septuagenarians revive schoolboy conflicts in the election of the President of the Association Now, however, the men possess a fiercer understanding of the things in life that matter power, revenge, hatred, love, and the failure of love and intrigue and deceit resultIn The Boarding House, William Wagner Bird takes in boarders whom society would never miss if it ever noticed they were around With these misfits, Bird creates a world where people are identified by their quirks rather than by their character Then he makes a fatal mistake He diesFrom the offices of The Love Department, Lady Dolores cures the heartaches of the lonely wives of Wimbledon with inimitable flourish and finesse When the newest protege, Edward Blakeston Smith, is sent on a mission to learn the secrets of seductive, scheming Septimus Tuam and stop him in his tracks he learns about love and its friends and enemiesIn these early novels, one of the acclaimed masters of twentieth century fiction created the dark landscape and compassionate characters that have become hallmarks of his extraordinary career One of the very best writers of our era The Washington Post Book World Mr Trevor s sheer intensity of entry into the lives of his people proceeds to uncover new layers of yearning and pain, new angles of vision and credible thought The New York Times Book Review


10 thoughts on “Three Early Novels: The Old Boys / The Boarding-House / The Love Department

  1. says:

    I read this book but previously reviewed each of the novels separately So here s a quick summary of the three with my impressions in case you tackle the three together as I did These are Trevor s first three novels that he was proud of, presented in chronological order The first, The Old Boys, was published in 1964 when Trevor was 36 He wrote a book, A Standard of Behavior, 6 years earlier but later disowned it and refused to have it reprinted All three have humor but I d say the second b I read this book but previously reviewed each of the novels separately So here s a quick summary of the three with my impressions in case you tackle the three together as I did These are Trevor s first three novels that he was proud of, presented in chronological order The first, The Old Boys, was published in 1964 when Trevor was 36 He wrote a book, A Standard of Behavior, 6 years earlier but later disowned it and refused to have it reprinted All three have humor but I d say the second book has black humor and the third is farce In The Old Boys, A group of elderly men, all graduates of the same boys school, meet to pass the time, plan reunions and talk about donating piddling amounts to the school As they reminisce about their trials and tribulations at the school, we are reminded that the British boys school system seems design to maximize bullying and intimidation and to terrify the smaller, timid, bookish, weaker boys The main character had a good experience there then he sent his son and it ruined him The main character and his wife have a marriage of mutual animosity and constant bickering Needless to say, much of their bickering centers around the failures of their son Despite this grim outline, the book is interlaced with humor In The Boarding House, eight people live in a run down London rooming house They have been hand picked by the owner because of their loneliness The founder of the boarding house seems genuinely sympathetic to lonely people he has no family himself and he keeps a notebook on them from which we learn about their backgrounds One entry reads I weep when I think of Joseph Scribbin s life, and the emptiness thereof Despite his attempts to provide these folks with the companionship of each other, they are still lonely because in different ways they are seriously damaged people in a psychological sense There s a lot of humor but it borders on black humor In the first chapter, the founder of what he calls his institution dies In his will leaves the boarding house to two of the most unlikely characters Was this a cruel joke on his part or did he have something else in mind The Love Department is also humorous essentially a farce and also a satire on the suburban lives of the well to do We see bored women who are married to caring, correct husbands who are married to their jobs The main character is a young man who has some kind of social disability He can t take stress and in fact has been living in a monastery retreat, taking a break from life to calm his nerves Even though he is in his 20 s he thinks I am still a child He gets bored in his retreat and comes out to find a job He is hired by Britain s most popular lovelorn columnist who answers letters in the newspaper and gives advice to her female readers She has received many letters from women in a London suburbs about a Don Juan type guy named Septimus Tuan He breaks up marriages So she hires this ingenue as a kind of private detective to go out and find him and stop him He grabs his bicycle and the farce begins Three good reads although I think Trevor s works improved over time and I prefer his later novels.Photo of the author from telegraph.co.uk


  2. says:

    I ve only read The Old Boys but for now, that suffices This is my first William Trevor and happens to be William Trevor s first novel In a certain light, it s quite entertaining and shows an eye ear for great dialogue and painting exact characters I wasn t in love with the topic, to be honest, i.e the old boys who attended the same public school, now in their late 60s, early 70s Eccentric, grotesque, ridiculous are words that come to mind and Trevor uses all these qualities to good effec I ve only read The Old Boys but for now, that suffices This is my first William Trevor and happens to be William Trevor s first novel In a certain light, it s quite entertaining and shows an eye ear for great dialogue and painting exact characters I wasn t in love with the topic, to be honest, i.e the old boys who attended the same public school, now in their late 60s, early 70s Eccentric, grotesque, ridiculous are words that come to mind and Trevor uses all these qualities to good effect.Not my cup of tea at this moment May revisit the other stories later


  3. says:

    This collection of three novels all feature Sienfeldian like plots, that for the most part made up of small aspects of various characters daily lives In order to make this lack of an over reaching plot function, all three works feature well developed characters, who all are flawed in some fundamental way It is through the interactions of these individuals that the plot advances Trevor largely keeps above the fray that his characters find themselves in, but unlike Checkov who really seems tru This collection of three novels all feature Sienfeldian like plots, that for the most part made up of small aspects of various characters daily lives In order to make this lack of an over reaching plot function, all three works feature well developed characters, who all are flawed in some fundamental way It is through the interactions of these individuals that the plot advances Trevor largely keeps above the fray that his characters find themselves in, but unlike Checkov who really seems truely neutral to their actions, the prose of Trevors work seems to lightly rebuke his protagonists flaws The first of the three novels is The Old Boys about a now geriatric committee formed from graduates of a youth boarding school for boys The group serves as trustees as a sort, making contributions to their alma matter, and power struggles within it from grudes harbored from the days spent at the school 50 years ago largely drive the story Amongst the most memorable characterizations is a wonderfully descriptive section of early senility as told in the first person The second novel is The Boarding House which traces the interconnected lives of a group of boarding house residents who had been collected over the years by the landlord who passes away early in the story The boarding house residents are misfit loners and form each others company The newly deceased former boarding house owner leaves the rental property bequeathed to the two most aggressive and cantankerous residents and the divergent plans that they both have make for interesting reading The last book of the three is titled The Love Department is the most unsteady of the three for me and traces the lives affected by a man who essentially extorts money from women under the guise of love Perhaps the most flawed character in all the books, he borders on evil, and is not as well developed as the others Contrasting to this man is a young naive boy who is tasked to follow his movements and although is better fleshed out, still falls somewhat flat Overall the collection was an intriguing read, mostly for the first two novels as opposed to the last Trevors personailzation of his characters is reason enough to read this work


  4. says:

    Trevor has definitely grown as a writer since these early works.


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