GENEVA, SWITZERLAND / BOOK MY PLACE – William Trevor is a new author for me though I know that he is an accomplished prize-winning writer of fiction. Death in Summer was a surprise. I don’t think I expected to find such empathy for his characters as there was in his pages.
Thaddeus Davenant loses his wife in a senseless accident and has the problem of baby Georgina on his hands. None of the nannies he interviews seems to be appropriate and the mother-in-law, Mrs Iveson, proposes herself as the carer. It is at this point that, for me, the novel takes off.
We enter the mind of Pettie, one of the rejected applicants and we visit her world, where she is loved and protected by the rather simple but generous and sincere friend of her childhood, Albert Luffe. They grew up together in a children’s home and we have recollections of the ‘uncles’ who brought presents and exploited the little girls, several of whom are now working the streets.
Pettie develops an unnatural obsession for the man who interviewed her for the post that she is convinced should have been hers. We watch, horrified, as the two social worlds move towards collision. astonishingly, but perhaps rightly, it is kind and simple Albert who emerges as the real hero of the story.