Author, Book review, England, Fiction, Ireland, literary fiction, Penguin, Publisher, Setting, William Trevor

‘Felicia’s Journey’ by William Trevor


Fiction – paperback; Penguin; 213 pages; 1994.

William Trevor‘s Felicia’s Journey is a wonderful, heartbreaking tale of a teenage girl’s search for the father of her unborn child.

That search takes her from her childhood home in Dublin, Ireland, to the bleak, post-industrial heartland of the British Midlands.

Her journey is fraught with difficulty and disaster until she meets the seemingly kindly Mr Hilditch who takes her under his wing. At just 17 years of age, Felicia’s stranger-danger radar seems far from tuned and she naively accepts his assistance.

This perfectly written novel (not a sentence, not a word, is out of place) is an enriching read. Felicia’s character — her naivety, her grit, her determination -— is in stark contrast to Mr Hilditch’s smarmy, insidiously creepy, traits.

For the reader, following Felicia as she blindly goes on her wild goose chase is difficult enough without having the menacing Mr Hilditch — a catering man in love with food — shadow her every move.

Without wishing to spoil the ending for anyone, I can say it is heartbreakingly sad, and some tissues might come in handy.

7 thoughts on “‘Felicia’s Journey’ by William Trevor”

  1. I’m a latecomer to the wonderful William Trevor’s work. I read The Story of Lucy Gault awhile back and just loved it. There’s a sort of melacholy that underpins his writing, but he never resorts to sentiment or all-out over-the-top drama. In many ways the subtlety only makes it more affecting.


  2. A very good book indeed. It’s been a while since I’ve read it but I keep thinking that I was in suspense the whole time and yes, Mr. H was creepy! I’ll have to pick up the Story of Lucy Gault.


  3. I’m happy, Kimbofo, for the opportunity to read your really old reviews. I discovered William Trevor in 1979. I loved his stories and novels then, but it seems that as he gets older, his novels and stories get more rural, more Irish, more austere, more stark and plain. I much prefer his youthful, busy, lively English stories of the 1970s. Unfortunately writers do not always get better as they get older. William Trevor is still a great writer; I just prefer his young exuberant stories.


  4. As I’m replying, I’m noticing this blog post is nearly twenty years old? How is that possible 🙂 Thank you for not spoiling anything in your review, as I read it before I was done the novel. It sure takes a turn towards the end! You could almost say it’s a book about Mr. Hilditch and Felicia is just how we encounter him… I’m now going to watch the movie adaptation, just ten minutes in and I think they got the look and feel of Mr. Hilditch’s home just about right…


    1. Oh my goodness… yes, my love of William Trevor stretches back a long time 😆 I wasn’t aware there was a film adaptation, so I must hunt that one out. I don’t remember much about this book other than an all-pervading sense of creepiness. I’m beginning to realise he writes a lot of male characters who are sexually devious… I’ve just finished reading Miss Gomez and the Brethren, written in the early 1970s, and it’s peopled by men who commit sex crimes — one is charged for peeping through a women’s changing room, another sexually harasses a landlady.


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