Family Sins by William Trevor - review by Rosemary Stoyle

Rosemary Stoyle

Eeh, Idn’t It Luvely?

Family Sins


Bodley Head 251pp £11.95 order from our bookshop

Out of their cupboards they come tumbling, the skeletons thrust there in haste, or tucked neatly in, locked away by several or furtively concealed by one. William Trevor has brought out a new book and a skelter of skeletons. Family Sins is a clever title for his latest collection of short stories, earlier published in a variety of journals, suggesting as it does the intimate and the forbidden, the most familiar things set beside those we hush up. Although the title was given to one story among the twelve here, it is remarkably apt for most of them. In every story some crime or fault or failing brings consequences in its train, and if the original wrong cannot be hidden it can at least be cloaked in silence.

Trevor does not here write mainly of the past nor always of his native Ireland, but takes his families to France, Italy and Switzerland and settles them it. England as well. Despite the linking title the twelve stories are very varied. He comes right up to the topical present with his story of a bereaved family pestered and betrayed by the press. As I put the book down, the radio was declaring a new Code of Conduct for the journalists involved in such cases. Another story takes place in a Tara Hotel, with a Rhett Butler room, which is apparently the latest fashion in American as the fiftieth anniversary of Gone with the Wind approaches.

There is a package holiday concerning which, ‘in some anonymous computer, a small calamity was conceived’ (indeed Small Calamities would make an alternative title for much of this collection). The young couple abroad have got themselves mixed up by mistake with the Your-Kind-Of-Holiday organisation (Your-Kind-Of-Safari was one superb option) and

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