NIGHTS AT THE ALEXANDRA by William Trevor

NIGHTS AT THE ALEXANDRA

KIRKUS REVIEW

A 15-year-old small-town lad in WW II Ireland expands his social horizons, and develops a romantic obsession--in this fine, characteristic Trevor story, one of the slightest (if purest) entries in the Harper Short Novel Series thus far. Harry, now 58, unmarried, and childless, recalls his adolescence during the war--when he was finishing up at a rectory grammar school, slated to start work soon at his father's timberyard. (His sister Annie--despite dreams of working as a Dublin shopgirl--has already been consigned forever to the timberyard office.) But Harry's life is changed forever when beautiful newcomer Mrs. Messinger, the young, thin English wife of a middle-aged German refugee, asks the youth to help her with some packages. Smitten, Harry is soon paying frequent visits to the Messingers' comfortable, European-style country house--where Frau Messinger reminisces about her English childhood and speaks of her unlikely marriage to 62-year-old Herr Messinger (a widower Whose sons are Nazi soldiers) with glowing affection. Despite coarse pressures from his bigoted parents, his sex. obsessed schoolmates, and other provincial sorts, Harry remains steadfast in his idealized devotion to the couple. So, when wealthy Herr M. decides to build a lavish, elegant cinema for the town (the romantic Alexandra), Harry's heart-and-soul are wrapped up in the project--especially once he realizes that the building of the moviehouse is Herr M.'s gift to a dying wife in her last months. And in time Harry will inherit the ultimately doomed Alexandra--escaping the world of the timberyard, but spending his life (not entirely plausibly) in the shadow of the Messingers' special love: "Fate has made me the ghost of an interlude; once in a while I say that in the town, trying to explain." More longish story than novella, without the strong political/historical resonance of some bolder Trevor tales--but exquisitely detailed, perfectly modulated in its bittersweet tone, and quietly, leanly, expertly told.
Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1987
ISBN: 0375504710
Page count: 99pp
Publisher: Harper & Row
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15th, 1987




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