‘Folie À Deux’ by William Trevor

Folie À Deux by William Trevor, 2006

The magic trick:

Maintaining a tone of calm even as the story gets more and more emotional and intense

Another day, another elegantly plotted and paced William Trevor story.

Today’s tale alternates between Wilby’s present life and the past memories triggered by seeing a childhood friend long thought dead. That probably sounds dramatic, and it is. But the remarkable thing about this story is the calm, almost monotone, vibe. It’s unsettling, honestly. No one gets too worked up about anything. Clearly, the events – both present and past – are affecting Wilby in an intense way. It’s just outwardly he’s stoic. And the narration follows suit. Everything is intense yet calm. And that’s quite a trick on Trevor’s part.

The selection:

A friendship developed between Miss Davally and Wilby’s mother – a formal association, first names not called upon, neither in conversation nor in the letters that came to be exchanged from one summer to the next. Anthony is said to be clever, Miss Davally’s spidery handwriting told. And then, as if that perhaps required watering down, Well, so they say. It was reported also that when each July drew near Anthony began to count the days. He values the friendship so! Miss Davally commented. How fortunate for two only children such a friendship is!

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