Author(s): William Trevor
William Trevor is an undisputed master of the short story but, perhaps, less known for his novels. Feliciaâ��s Journey, which follows the journey of a young, innocent girl from rural Ireland to Birmingham, is bursting with understated mood and atmosphere. Perfectly crafted and wonderfully cinematic (you may have seen director Atom Egoyanâ��s recent screen adaptation starring Bob Hoskins) it screams with a sinister undercurrent of menace; there are few writers who say so much so quietly. 'You're beautiful', Johnny told her and so, full of hope seventeen-year-old Felicia crosses the Irish Sea to England to find her lover and tell him she is pregnant. Searching desperately for Johnny, she is, instead, found by Mr Hilditch, pudgy canteen catering manager, collector and befriender of homeless young girls. A book so brilliant that it compels you to stay up all night galloping through to the end... exquisitely crafted Val Hennessy, The Daily Mail William Trevor is a master of both language and storytelling... this sinister, elegant, piercingly sad novel is surely one of the books of the year. Hilary Mantel, The Sunday Express Felicia's Journey confirms the maxim that to understand all is to forgive all, and it demonstrates as well that in hands like Mr Trevor's, fiction is a tool without equal for creating such understanding. Mr Hilditch has seen them about: nutters, is his view. He has noticed them on the streets, imposing their literature on people, bothering people with religious talk. Somehow or other the girl has become entangled with them; certainly she's lodging in their house because he has seen her entering it. An innocent girl from the bogs of Ireland, suscpetible to any suggestion they'd make: what chance would she have under pressure like thate The only consolation is that the house she's in is well away from the Old Hinley Road barracks, two miles at least, maybe two and a half. The lads from the barracks use the Goose and Gander, and Hinley Fish 'n' Chips at the Stoat roundabout, or else the Queen's head down Budder way. Mr Hilditch remembers that from the Elsie Covington days, when a young thug from the barracks had her out a couple of times. The area isn't part of town, never was. Apart from the barracks, there's nothing much doing there: weekends or a heavy night out, the squaddies are on the motorway down to Brum. Mr Hilditch plays 'Falling in Love Again' on his gramophone, then 'Stella by Starlight' and 'Makin' Whoopee'. The records are old seventy-eights: being an antique, the gramophone doesn't play anything else. Mr Hilditch relaxes in an armchair, the Daily Telegraph - all of it read - on the carpet beside him, the melodies a solace in his worry about the well-being of the girl he has befriended. 'Ev'ry rolling stone gets to feel alone,' sing Doris Day, 'When home sweet home is far away.' Mr Hilditch calls this room his big front room, the expression used orivately to himself because there never has been a call to use it to anyone else. The oil paintings of other people's ancestors gaze benignly down at him. His billiard table, rarely used, is in a corner; a cabinet contains someone else's collection of paperweights. Two grandfather clocks, wound every Thursday evening and adjusted daily, tick agreeably, one between the heavily curtained windows, the other by the door. On the black marble mantlepiece, above a mammoth electric fire with glowing coals, there are china mugs, and ornaments: a seal balancing a ball, ballet dancers, a comic orchestra of Dalmatians, highland cattle. The room's wallpaper is mainly crimson, roses on a trellis. The room's history, back numbers of the National Geographic magazine, bound volumes of Punch and the railway and Travel Monthly fill a bookcase. 'Never thought my heart could be so yearny,' sings Doris Day. 'Why did I decide to roamh' The song concludes and the needle whines softly as the record continues to revolve. It's a pleasant sound, Mr Hilditch considers and listens to it lazily, much calmer now than when he entered the room an hour ago. Tomorrow he'll try again for an encounter.
Name on half title
Winner of Whitbread Prize (Novel) 1994 and Sunday Express Prize 1994 and Whitbread Book Awards: Book of the Year 1994 and Whitbread Book Awards: Novel Category 1994.
William Trevor was born in 1928 at Mitchelstown, County Cork, spent his childhood in provincial Ireland, and now lives in Devon.