These autobiographical tales are about people and places, personal fascinations and enthusiasms, that have remained snagged in William Trevor's memory over the years.
He writes here of childhood and youth, of his schools and university days, his early life in Dublin and London, of Ireland and of England. Most of the portraits are of people who have either been well known to him or casually met a few are drawn from the imagination, though the subjects are real. Some of the landscapes are equally familiar to him, while others are merely glimpsed: Persia in the early seventies, a Swiss valley, County Cork in the thirties, a Gloucestershire village, Venice in November, New York and San Francisco.
Places do not die as people do, William Trevor writes in his introduction, but they often changed so fundamentally that little is left of what once they were. The landscape of the Nire valley that spreads over a northern part of Country Waterford is timeless, but the Dublin remembered here is the Dublin of several pasts, and elsewhere among these impressions there is that same dichotomy. Affectionate, poignant and often gently humorous, these essays are an expansion of a writer's notebook. Such excursions into memory convey the essence of William Trevor's world read in conjunction with Lucy Willis's graceful illustrations, they illuminate unforgettably the background to this celebrated novels and short stories.