My first encounter with William Trevor’s writings began with Two Lives back in 2004. Although I didn’t mind those two novellas, I can’t say I warmed to them. Thank goodness Felicia’s Journey was a much better experience.
Pregnant and abandoned by her family, Felicia leaves her native Ireland for London, mainly to find the father of her child and discuss the baby’s future. On the way she bumps into the obese, lonely Mr. Hilditch, who actually preys on young women who are in need. On top of that Felicia has a run in with a charismatic group and leaves a bad impression on them. By the end of the novel Felicia discovers that Mr. Hilditch has quite a few disturbing secrets and the charismatics also discover that things are not as they seem either.
Felicia’s Journey does deal mostly with illusion (as in appearances) and reality but this all comes out in the novel’s dramatic conclusion, this all comes to light through one of the character’s committing suicide so death is seen as some sort of release. It seems that Trevor’s characters are victims of circumstance and one little act of fate determines their destinies.
Alongside this wonderful McEwanesque plot there is Trevor’s writing style, which builds and releases tensions with every paragraph and this makes Felicia’s Journey fantastic reading. Also after reading a series of duds for the past few weeks, this book came as a relief.