FELICIA'S JOURNEY by William Trevor
Kirkus Star


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The Irish-born novelist and short-story writer (Two Lives, 1991, etc.) takes a surprising turn for the mysterious in this chilling portrait of a serial killer. It takes a while before we realize that one of the two alternating points of view here is that of a deranged man who preys on lost women. Middle-aged J.A. Hilditch, rotund catering manager for a factory lunchroom, seems a bit fussy at worst to Felicia, the Irish teenager who has run away from home to this English town north of Birmingham to find the boy who knocked her up. But Johnny Lysaght, wishing to hide his real job from the boys back home (he's in the British army), has told Felicia he works in a factory. While making her pointless search of possible workplaces, bags in tow, Felicia relives her rough departure from Ireland. With no mother to confide in, this innocent convent-school girl suffers her father's scorn and gets no help from Johnny's suspicious mother. Hilditch misleads Felicia in her search as part of his elaborate plan to render her broke and helpless, and we soon discover that he has created a complete fantasy life that includes military service and an invalid wife. His obsessive behavior grows fetishistic, part of his bizarre fantasy: Felicia is his fiancÉe, carrying his fetus. After rejection by the local settlement house, she finds herself on Hilditch's doorstep, and he encourages her to have an abortion. It doesn't take long, though, for Felicia to figure out that Hilditch's patchwork reminiscences of five previous girlfriends amount to a history of murder. She takes off for a life on the streets, finding solace and forgiveness from God in her mere survival, while Hilditch descends further into madness. Trevor's combination of the pathological and the lyrical transcends mere genre fiction: He's a master still exploring the possibilities of his craft.

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 1995
ISBN: 0-670-85745-9
Page count: 224pp
Publisher: Viking
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1st, 1994


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