Last Stories

Viking. May 2018. 224p. ISNB 9780525558101. $26; ebk. ISBN 9780525558118. F
OrangeReviewStarTwo workmen realize that the worn-out relative/housekeeper of the crippled man who hired them is hiding his boss's death (the better to keep receiving his pension). A man learns that the rumpled woman found dead in an alley was once the polished, desperately striving widow who tried to win him. A cartographer returns to the Yorkshire farm where he once tutored a lovely girl, now a grown woman with whom he falls in love. Throughout these final stories from the masterly Trevor (The Story of Lucy Gault), limpid and clearly defined as dewdrops on a branch, we see characters dealing with the past and moving forward—or not. Not surprisingly, there's an autumnal air throughout: the housekeeper "had once known what she wanted, but she wasn't so sure about that anymore," while the cartographer realizes that you can't escape what's done ("the damaged do not politely go away"), and a woman betrayed by a friend recalls a time when "friendship was the better thing." Yet this is hard-won wisdom, not sorrow.
VERDICT Highly recommended. [See Prepub Alert, 11/6/17.]
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