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Two Lives


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About the Author

William Trevor was born in Mitchelstown, County Cork. He has written many novels, and has won many prizes including the Hawthornden Prize, the Yorkshire Post Book of the Year Award, and the Whitbread Book of the Year Award. His most recent novel Love and Summer was longlisted for the Booker Prize. He is also a renowned short-story writer, and his two-volume Collected Stories was published by Viking penguin in 2009. In 1999 William Trevor received the prestigious David Cohen Literature Prize in recognition of a lifetime's literary achievement, and in 2002 he was knighted for his services to literature. He now lives in Devon.


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.)

Two Lives is two full-blown novels on isolated women, a vein familiar from Trevor's very elegant and very popular short stories. The first life, ``Reading Turgenev,'' is the uneventful one: marriage of convenience gone sour in small-town Ireland, glimpse of love in dying young man (who provides the Turgenev), willful retreat into loneliness. The second, ``My House in Umbria,'' is the eventful one: prostitute-turned-romance-novelist tears across three continents until slowed (and rendered reflective) by terrorist bomb. There is something labored about all this, especially the old-age frame for the first story and the chat about writing novels in the second. But Trevor's 12 novels (if we count this once) consistently manage to be both intelligent and moving. His loyal, literate following will be pleased by a two-for-one offer inviting exercises in comparison and contrast. Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 5/1/91.-- John P. Harrington, Cooper Union, New York

As rich and moving as anything I have read in years. When I reached the end of both of these marvellous novels, I wanted to start right again at the beginning * Guardian *
These novels will endure. And in every beautiful sentence there is not a word out of place -- Anita Brookner * Spectator *
Inquisitive and loving. Trevor's is among the most subtle and sophisticated fiction being written today * New York Review of Books *
A writer at the peak of his powers; it reminds you what good reading is all about * Chicago Sun Times *
Reading Turgenev is one of the most beautiful and memorable things he has written. It stays in your memory -like Turgenev * Independent on Sunday *
He writes like an angel, but is determined to wring your heart. Trevor at his most evocative and haunting * Daily Mail *

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