Troubles (New York Review Books Classics)
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Winner of the Lost Man Booker Prize
1919: After surviving the Great War, Major Brendan Archer makes his way to Ireland, hoping to discover whether he is indeed betrothed to Angela Spencer, whose Anglo-Irish family owns the once-aptly-named Majestic Hotel in Kilnalough. But his fiancée is strangely altered and her family's fortunes have suffered a spectacular decline. The hotel's hundreds of rooms are disintegrating on a grand scale; its few remaining guests thrive on rumors and games of whist; herds of cats have taken over the Imperial Bar and the upper stories; bamboo shoots threaten the foundations; and piglets frolic in the squash court. Meanwhile, the Major is captivated by the beautiful and bitter Sarah Devlin. As housekeeping disasters force him from room to room, outside the order of the British Empire also totters: there is unrest in the East, and in Ireland itself the mounting violence of "the troubles."
Troubles is a hilarious and heartbreaking work by a modern master of the historical novel.
across the fields and made good his escape. The other, who had a bicycle and was disinclined to leave it, had been confident that he could outpedal the Royal Irish Constabulary. Although for the first fifty yards the fugitive, pedalling desperately, had swerved to and fro in front of the peelers almost within grabbing range, he had then slowly pulled away. By the time they had slowed their pursuit to draw their revolvers the Sinn Feiner had increased his lead to almost a hundred yards. He slowed
pieces of rubber, evidently for some experiment he wanted to make. Consequently he paid no attention whatsoever. The maidservants, of course, smiled at him and showed their dimples, but they were too shy to speak to him, so that was no good. Curiously enough, Mr Norton showed no interest at all; he merely glanced up from his newspaper and raised his wicked old eyebrows. One had to assume that after his life of debauchery he must know the difference between Padraig and the real thing, so this poor
antlers. He explained carefully, nevertheless, to the indignant Miss Bagley that the servants’ wing was uninhabitable: the roof had been taken off as cleanly as the top off a boiled egg. On returning from the squash court his watery footprints had diverged from Edward’s bloody ones and made their anxious way along dim corridors to “below stairs” where they were baulked from proceeding any farther. A foaming cascade of water was pouring down these stairs, and farther on down where they continued
self-pity and Sarahlessness became appallingly acute as he listened to the old man grumbling on. A wave of fever clutched him. His shirt and underwear clung damply to his skin. “Thought you’d come sooner or later,” the doctor was saying contemptuously. “This is no place for the likes of you...You must leave Ireland, leave Kilnalough, it’s no place at all now for a British gentleman like you. Clear yourself out of here, bag and baggage, before it’s too late!” “But I only asked about my cold,”
market square, she very often administered correction to entirely innocent passers-by. One day, genuinely alarmed by their immoderation, he permitted himself to suggest to the ladies that this “lack of respect” was more imagined than real...but that if the shopping expeditions continued to behave like war-parties there really would be trouble. The ladies received this suggestion coldly, but perhaps it had some effect. In his company, at any rate, the subject was brought up less often. It had