Last night I attended one of my book club meetings - always an enjoyable night as it consists of nibbles, wine and, of course, talk of books. On this occasion we discussed William Trevor's novel, Love and Sunshine.
None of us had read any of Trevor's previous novels, and I must admit I wasn't really looking forward to starting it. The story tells of Ellie, a young convent girl who has married a widowed Irish farmer. Although he treats her well there is no real love or passion between them. Then Ellie meets a stranger in the village and over the hot days of Summer Ellie and the stranger form an illicit attachment.
I had predicted the novel would be overly romantic and unrealistic to the point of frustration. I was somewhat pleasantly surprised - it wasn't as bad as I had expected.
However, the book club consensus went something like this: The book was slow and written in a complicated manner; worse still, nothing really happened.
Characterisation was another issue. Put aside the fact that all the characters were under developed and one dimensional; there were numerous characters that could easily have been excluded from the novel, their presence adding nothing worthwhile. What's more, the female characters were weak, badly treated by the men they cared for and dull - this is something irritating for a female reader.
Perhaps, I have been unfair in the portrayal of this book. It is an easy read, and the descriptions do create some beautiful images of the Irish countryside. But if I'm honest, there are much better novels out there.