Another stellar collection from Trevor (A Bit on the Side: Stories, 2004, etc.).

Blarney-free—shorn, too, of much of anything overtly lyrical or political or Catholic Gothic—these aren’t standard-issue Irish tales. Yet Trevor gives us an unassailably real contemporary Ireland, quotidian and atmospheric as fog. In “The Dressmaker’s Child,” Cahal the mechanic lives in a small-town world of Ford Cortinas and WD-40, and yet collides with the uncanny. Spanish pilgrims he’s chauffeuring to visit the Virgin of the Wayside, a statue whose miraculous tears have been debunked, kiss in his backseat, unaware of the thud as he hits a small girl on the dark road. Guilt descends and, his crime undetected, a year later he returns to the Virgin: Her marble face is moist. “Faith,” meanwhile, concerns a difficult woman named Hester, given to “severity and suspicion,” whose brother’s improbable solicitude during her dark dying makes the tale one of the most convincing deathbed stories since Tolstoy’s “The Death of Ivan Illyich.” A dim tramp, Donal Prunty, returns home in “Men of Ireland” after failure in England. He’s wretched and, hoping to share his wretchedness, blackmails a guileless priest by hinting that the old man is a pedophile like so many of his clerical brethren. “Diminished by the sins that so deeply stained his cloth, distrustful of his people,” Father Meade hands over money to the thief then prays for him. In the marvelous title story, old Mallory redeems a promise to his recently dead wife to return to Harry’s Bar in Venice and review the Italian sights the couple had once loved. In the famous bistro, he overhears a couple, stylish as Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, bicker and pout and miscommunicate. He mourns his loss and their waste of love.


Pub Date: Oct. 22, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-670-01837-6

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2007

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A modern day fable, with modern implications in a deceiving simplicity, by the author of Dickens. Dali and Others (Reynal & Hitchcock, p. 138), whose critical brilliance is well adapted to this type of satire. This tells of the revolt on a farm, against humans, when the pigs take over the intellectual superiority, training the horses, cows, sheep, etc., into acknowledging their greatness. The first hints come with the reading out of a pig who instigated the building of a windmill, so that the electric power would be theirs, the idea taken over by Napoleon who becomes topman with no maybes about it. Napoleon trains the young puppies to be his guards, dickers with humans, gradually instigates a reign of terror, and breaks the final commandment against any animal walking on two legs. The old faithful followers find themselves no better off for food and work than they were when man ruled them, learn their final disgrace when they see Napoleon and Squealer carousing with their enemies... A basic statement of the evils of dictatorship in that it not only corrupts the leaders, but deadens the intelligence and awareness of those led so that tyranny is inevitable. Mr. Orwell's animals exist in their own right, with a narrative as individual as it is apt in political parody.

Pub Date: Aug. 26, 1946

ISBN: 0452277507

Page Count: 114

Publisher: Harcourt, Brace

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1946

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Doerr captures the sights and sounds of wartime and focuses, refreshingly, on the innate goodness of his major characters.

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Doerr presents us with two intricate stories, both of which take place during World War II; late in the novel, inevitably, they intersect.

In August 1944, Marie-Laure LeBlanc is a blind 16-year-old living in the walled port city of Saint-Malo in Brittany and hoping to escape the effects of Allied bombing. D-Day took place two months earlier, and Cherbourg, Caen and Rennes have already been liberated. She’s taken refuge in this city with her great-uncle Etienne, at first a fairly frightening figure to her. Marie-Laure’s father was a locksmith and craftsman who made scale models of cities that Marie-Laure studied so she could travel around on her own. He also crafted clever and intricate boxes, within which treasures could be hidden. Parallel to the story of Marie-Laure we meet Werner and Jutta Pfennig, a brother and sister, both orphans who have been raised in the Children’s House outside Essen, in Germany. Through flashbacks we learn that Werner had been a curious and bright child who developed an obsession with radio transmitters and receivers, both in their infancies during this period. Eventually, Werner goes to a select technical school and then, at 18, into the Wehrmacht, where his technical aptitudes are recognized and he’s put on a team trying to track down illegal radio transmissions. Etienne and Marie-Laure are responsible for some of these transmissions, but Werner is intrigued since what she’s broadcasting is innocent—she shares her passion for Jules Verne by reading aloud 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. A further subplot involves Marie-Laure’s father’s having hidden a valuable diamond, one being tracked down by Reinhold von Rumpel, a relentless German sergeant-major.

Doerr captures the sights and sounds of wartime and focuses, refreshingly, on the innate goodness of his major characters.

Pub Date: May 6, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4767-4658-6

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: March 6, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2014

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