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The Hill Bachelors Paperback – October 1, 2001

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books (October 1, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141002174
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141002170
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.6 x 7.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,020,991 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

In more than two dozen books, William Trevor has recounted heartbreaking narratives with an extraordinary economy of detail and expression. The stories collected in The Hill Bachelors are cut from this same understated cloth, and reveal a master at the very height of his powers. As usual, only the merest tip of the emotional iceberg breaks the surface of his prose. Yet Trevor invariably points us toward submerged memories, traumas, and desires, ennobling the ordinary with an often tragic grandeur.

Renunciation--be it personal, political, familial, or erotic--is usually at the core of these tales. In the title story, for example, 29-year-old Paulie returns to work the land of his fathers on a desolate hillside in the west of Ireland, fully aware that he will henceforth be unable to marry: "Enduring, unchanging, the hills had waited for him, claiming one of their own." "A Friend in the Trade" revolves around unrequited love, while the hero of "The Mourning" ultimately rejects the so-called heroism of sectarian violence. Most of The Hill Bachelors is set in Ireland, and boast a richness of imagery and lyrical intensity that verges on prose poetry. "Low Sunday, 1950" in particular evokes the terrible beauty of Yeats's history-haunted landscapes. And in "The Virgin's Gift," a prodigal son makes his long-awaited return, eliciting the closest that William Trevor ever comes to a Joycean epiphany: "No choirs sang, there was no sudden splendor, only limbs racked by toil in a smoky hovel, a hand that blindly searched the air. Yet angels surely held the cobwebs of this mercy, the gift of a son given again." --Robert Mighall --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

With the recent death of V.S. Pritchett, Trevor is arguably the best short story writer working in the English language, and these stories are up to his own highest standards. Trevor simply knows so much, moving effortlessly between Irish rural settings, like that of the title story, and the world of the sophisticated English art historians at the heart of " A Friend in the Trade." He is equally able to inhabit the worlds of priests, restless American expatriates and quarrelsome academics, always with an acute sense of their wide range of voices and habits of mind. His effects are quiet but no less telling for that, and his understated endings are achieved with mastery. One of the best of an outstanding bunch is "The Mourning," the story of a simple Irish laborer who nearly gets to plant a bomb in London for the IRA, until he thinks better of it; the subtle way he is drawn into thinking he can perform such a desperate act says more about the Troubles than many a full-length novel. "Good News" is a heartrending account of a young girl hoping a minor film role will help bring her family together. "The Telephone Game" is a psychologically astute study of an about-to-be-married young couple who come perilously close to finding out too much about each other at the last moment. "The Virgin's Gift" is an utter change of pace, an intensely poetic story of faith and redemption that reads like a myth. "Against the Odds" is a delicious study of a woman who is a confidence trickster against her own better instincts. "Of the Cloth" is a penetrating tale of the impact a small act of kindness has over the years. Work like this reveals a perfectly crafted story as one of the true gems of literature. (Oct.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

24 of 25 people found the following review helpful By taking a rest HALL OF FAME on February 23, 2001
Format: Hardcover
This is the first time that I have read the work of Mr. William Trevor. If his collection of short stories, "Hill Bachelors", is any indication of the man's talent I will read whatever else has been published. The volume contains 12 stories that all share parallels, however they do not need to be read as a collection, they all can stand-alone.
The stories could be classified as redemptive, however at least one describes a Faustian Bargain. Many of the stories are dark, and others bear results that were never intended. Still others are the results from lack of attention or care, and they are of wreckage both physical and mental. I think it is valid to say they describe the fragility of many relationships, and the ignorance that prevents the forming of contact until a destructive event takes place. It is not a collection of tales that portrays the best in people, but it somehow does not read as oppressively as the storylines would seem to demand.
One story details a horrible crime and uses a snapped rose bush as a metaphor. The same unlikely force cleans up the debris from both, before the mess from either becomes too great. A wedding eve party shows how uncertain the next day's events can be when the smallest of unintended events does or does not take place. My favorite had to do with Priests and Ministers, burned out homes and lost congregations. In this story Mr. Trevor illustrates the senseless behavior of a people, a nation, and the religions they adhere to. He brings together that which should not meet, and the result is what should happen but somehow surprises when it does.
This is a wonderful set of stories that are all complete, however when read together have enough commonality that the Author's message is not so much repeated as it is reinforced as they are read. Marvelous writing, highly recommended.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Mary K. Emmrich on November 21, 2000
Format: Hardcover
In several of Trevor's sparsely worded stories we find characters who give too much of themselves. "The Virgin's Gift", "Good News" and "The Mourning" all tell of those who turn their souls over to others, and are unsettled with the outcomes. I was sad when done, particularly when finishing "Good News", because I knew that the characters had been disappointed or were about to be.
I was drawn to the character of Clione in "A Friend in the Trade" - she was decisive enough to know that she was the object of unstated affections, but not strong enough to confront her admirer frankly. She was so powerful in her humor and her work, but she had long accepted her status quo, so she did not know how to be single-minded in adversity. She acted like a shallow school girl in telling her husband of their friend's affections, but she became more complex in that telling. I wonder about her still - I wanted to know more about her after the story was told.
Good stories, these. Minimalist short stories are my preference - they allow me to imagine, to dream, and to pretend.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A. Brown on March 28, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
William Trevor is one of our very best contemporary writers. He captures the soul of Ireland's people in every story. This book of short stories was like a rich meal...one must stop to savor and reflect and digest after each course (story).
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More About the Author

William Trevor was born in Mitchelstown, County Cork. He has written many novels, and has won many prizes including the Hawthornden Prize, the Yorkshire Post Book of the Year Award, and the Whitbread Book of the Year Award. His most recent novel Love and Summer was longlisted for the Booker Prize. He is also a renowned short-story writer, and his two-volume Collected Stories was published by Viking Penguin in 2009. In 1999 William Trevor received the prestigious David Cohen Literature Prize in recognition of a lifetime's literary achievement, and in 2002 he was knighted for his services to literature. He now lives in Devon.

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