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A small, pretty seaside town is harshly exposed by a young boy's curiosity. His prurient interest, oddly motivated, leaves few people unaffected - and the consequences cannot be ignored. A small, pretty seaside town is harshly exposed by a young boy's curiosity. His prurient interest, oddly motivated, leaves few people unaffected - and the consequences cannot be ignored.


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A small, pretty seaside town is harshly exposed by a young boy's curiosity. His prurient interest, oddly motivated, leaves few people unaffected - and the consequences cannot be ignored. A small, pretty seaside town is harshly exposed by a young boy's curiosity. His prurient interest, oddly motivated, leaves few people unaffected - and the consequences cannot be ignored.

30 review for The Children of Dynmouth

  1. 4 out of 5

    Jim Fonseca

    CONTAINS SPOILERS The main character comes across at first as a special ed kid, but as the story evolves we see that he is truly mentally disturbed. He’s an older teenager who is cast aside by his family. He has no father and his mother and older sister are good buddies, laughing, smoking, eating together, while he fends for himself on leftovers in his room. So he wanders the town stealing petty things and small amounts of money, getting into trouble and doing odd jobs for people. He’s the type CONTAINS SPOILERS The main character comes across at first as a special ed kid, but as the story evolves we see that he is truly mentally disturbed. He’s an older teenager who is cast aside by his family. He has no father and his mother and older sister are good buddies, laughing, smoking, eating together, while he fends for himself on leftovers in his room. So he wanders the town stealing petty things and small amounts of money, getting into trouble and doing odd jobs for people. He’s the type who tells corny puns, repeats them and then says “do you get it” and still explains it to you. A minster with infinite patience tries to help steer the young boy straight. The boy hatches a plan to present a bizarre play in a local talent show. It’s a parody of a famous murderer who killed women in their baths --- just what you want at church-sponsored event in a small town. But with age he has become vicious; basically blackmailing people to get the props he needs for his play. He gets his blackmail material from what he has seen peering and listening through windows and spying around town. He knows why a son has ruined his parents by running off, never to come home again; he knows that the retired military commander has his eyes on the cub scouts at the beach; he knows which women regularly meet the local Lothario in the public restroom. (Thus the origin of the expression “Get a room!” although we know that unmarried people could not do that in those days in a small Irish town.) Two other main characters are a young girl and boy whose parents just married after the death of the man’s wife. The malicious kid concocts a story with just enough bits of truth that has them believing that the man, now their father, murdered his first wife. It’s a good read. Like other Trevor stories, it’s about lonely, listless people trapped in a stifling small town in Ireland a generation or more ago. My thanks to Nancy Oakes for recommending this book to me. photo from inroadsireland.com

  2. 5 out of 5

    Julie

    It was a quarter past seven, and the ladies of book club were gathered in their typical circle of seven. Aimee had already claimed her Pinot Grigio, but the other ladies still looked on with anticipation, wondering when Barb would manage to open the damned Pinot Noir. Some of their knees touched briefly in Barb's little living room, crouched as they were on two small loveseats and three dining room chairs. Chloe grabbed her phone from her purse, saw that it was 7:17 now. She put her phone away, It was a quarter past seven, and the ladies of book club were gathered in their typical circle of seven. Aimee had already claimed her Pinot Grigio, but the other ladies still looked on with anticipation, wondering when Barb would manage to open the damned Pinot Noir. Some of their knees touched briefly in Barb's little living room, crouched as they were on two small loveseats and three dining room chairs. Chloe grabbed her phone from her purse, saw that it was 7:17 now. She put her phone away, took out her hardcover copy of The Children of Dynmouth and tossed it hard on the coffee table. Danielle, seated next to her on a loveseat, looked over at it and sighed. She leaned in to Chloe and whispered, “Yours has the little creep on the cover??” Chloe nodded, biting a nail. Barb pulled up hard on the corkscrew, managing to break the cork in half. A broken piece of cork emerged up out of the liquid, while the other half remained inside like a buoy, bobbing up and down in the dark wine. Barb growled to the side of the wine bottle, “Mother fucker.” Ruth-Anne, the group's self-appointed leader, glanced at her phone now, horrified that it was almost half-past seven. She gave what she considered to be a polite cough, to call the ladies to order, and she offered “Shall we get started then?” Charmaine, balancing a small plate of dip and chips, leaned in to grab Chloe's copy of the book to simulate her interest. In doing so, she dropped a thick clump of dip on Barb's plush carpet. She went breathless, leaning over to catch it with a napkin, and grumbled “For fuck's sake,” as she sat back up. She asked Barb, in an agitated voice, “What made you pick this one, Barb?” Barb, who was now pouring Pinot Noir into various fat glasses, watched in dismay as small pieces of cork floated at the top of each glass. She sighed, distracted. “Burt, my stepdad. He's British?” Off to the side, Alison, the only non-drinker in the group, rolled her eyes. “So, he likes this William Trevor, then. Is that what you mean?” Chloe grabbed the wine glass offered to her, said, “You guys. Are we still reading the new Jodi Picoult next month?” Danielle, grabbing her drink now from Barb, nodded enthusiastically. “It's supposed to be so good. I've already started it.” Chloe wondered if she could borrow Danielle's copy soon. Ruth-Anne sat forward to insert herself deeper into the circle. If she didn't keep these women on task, no one would. She coughed again, then, “So, Barb. Burt's from the Cornwall area, right? Was this Trevor someone he grew up reading?” Barb finally planted herself heavily on one of the chairs. She could see that both of her kids were at the top of the stairs, spying. She made a gesture with her hand to threaten them back to bed. “Yes. He said we'd love this one.” Chloe gave Danielle a meaningful stare, while Charmaine, with a mouth full of dip, contributed, “Our son Thomas. . . he was almost a Timothy.” Several of the ladies groaned. Alison looked up at one of Barb's exposed windows. She imagined she could see a pale face there. “Thank God I never had sons,” she announced to the group. “Bunch of creeps.” Charmaine gave an involuntary shudder and almost dropped a cracker. Aimee leaned in to grab a carrot stick, shared, “I think this Trevor guy must be some kind of pervert.” Chloe and Danielle nodded emphatically from the loveseat. “I thought the whole story was sick,” Danielle contributed. “And they eat the weirdest shit over there. I didn't even know what anyone was saying.” Barb coughed on a small piece of cork that had fled down her throat. Fucking Burt. First that incest book, now this. Danielle piped up again, “You guys. The Picoult book is supposed to be so good.” Chloe nodded with enthusiasm. “I know. I can't wait to read it!” She reached for her phone again: 7:31. Maybe she'd tell the group she just started her period and had to leave early. No. Then she'd have to walk home alone in the dark, picturing that pale-faced little fucker at every corner.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Hugh

    William Trevor was one of the Booker Prize's perennial bridesmaids, and this book was shortlisted in 1976. The setting is Dynmouth, an outwardly sleepy Dorset seaside town rather reminiscent of Lyme Regis. Like another book I read recently, Michael Frayn's Spies, this is a story about innocence and experience, and childhood games colliding with adult secrets with unforeseen consequences. The central character is brilliantly drawn. Timothy Gedge is a 15-year old loner who spends much of his time w William Trevor was one of the Booker Prize's perennial bridesmaids, and this book was shortlisted in 1976. The setting is Dynmouth, an outwardly sleepy Dorset seaside town rather reminiscent of Lyme Regis. Like another book I read recently, Michael Frayn's Spies, this is a story about innocence and experience, and childhood games colliding with adult secrets with unforeseen consequences. The central character is brilliantly drawn. Timothy Gedge is a 15-year old loner who spends much of his time watching people. At the start this seems fairly innocent and harmless - he dreams of escaping his inevitable destiny in the town's sandpaper factory via a talent contest, for which his act requires the help of various props he can only obtain by revealing what he has seen while watching people. It becomes clear that he has learning difficulties, and although he has seen and remembered much, he understands little and uses a lively imagination to fill in the gaps. As he cannot resist talking to everyone he can, his revelations leave a trail of destruction. This is largely described via his harassment of Stephen and Kate, two 12 year olds who have been brought together because Stephen's widowed father has just married Kate's divorced mother. The portrait of the community is fully realised and full of comic 70s detail - as somebody who was brought up in 70s England this had many resonances. The ending is surprising and has an element of redemption.

  4. 5 out of 5

    ·Karen·

    Devastating Oh, you have to watch the names with Trevor. Timothy: honouring god. Surname Gedge, which has an unpleasant sound to it but apparently comes from an ancient word gygge and designated someone with high spirits. And yes, spirits he has, although Kate is convinced the ones in possession of Timothy are devils. She applies to the local clergyman but finds him inadequate when he rejects the idea of exorcism. As Trevor said in an interview, there's always a bit of god-bothering in his work, Devastating Oh, you have to watch the names with Trevor. Timothy: honouring god. Surname Gedge, which has an unpleasant sound to it but apparently comes from an ancient word gygge and designated someone with high spirits. And yes, spirits he has, although Kate is convinced the ones in possession of Timothy are devils. She applies to the local clergyman but finds him inadequate when he rejects the idea of exorcism. As Trevor said in an interview, there's always a bit of god-bothering in his work, a gnawing, nagging complaining about this world: if it was created, what was he thinking? Beware the well-meaning romanticism of a student teacher (Trevor himself worked as a teacher. And note the name of this one): A student teacher called O'Hennessy arrived at the Comprehensive and talked to his pupils about a void when he was scheduled to be teaching them English. 'The void can be filled,' he said. Nobody paid much attention to O'Hennessy, who liked to be known by his Christian name, which was Brehon. Nobody understood a word he was talking about. 'The landscape is the void,' he said. Escape from the drear landscape. Fill the void with beauty.' All during his English classes Brehon O'Hennessy talked about the void, and the drear landscape, and beauty. In every kid, he pronounced, looking from one face to another, there was an avenue to a fuller life........ Timothy Gedge, like all the others, had considered O'Hennessy to be touched in the head, but then O'Hennessy had said something that made him less certain about that. Everyone was good at something, he said, nobody was without talent: it was a question of discovering yourself. Timothy decides that the local sandpaper factory is not his avenue to a fuller life. He has a talent indeed. He can be abrasive in many, many ways. And doggedly single-minded in pursuing his goal. A gentle, tender, distressing exposure of the loss of innocence. Timothy is a malevolent spirit, a destructive animus, one that kicks away the props holding up cracked and sagging illusions and self-deceptions. Are the characters better off when their protective shell has been stripped away and they are left squirming in the unaccustomed light of day? Is Timothy as much victim as he is perpetrator? And how does Trevor manage to be so hilarious at the same time as devastating???

  5. 4 out of 5

    Laysee

    I wanted to read one of my favorite authors and listen to a familiar voice. That longing took me to Dynmouth on the Dorset coast of England where I anticipated pleasurable hours reading a William Trevor novel set in the 1970s. It will be a quiet read, methinks, since the story is supposed to unfold in an unspoilt seaside town complete with charming tea-shops and laces. I was sorely mistaken. The Children of Dynmouth turned out to be an unnerving story that shattered my sense of equanimity. Trevo I wanted to read one of my favorite authors and listen to a familiar voice. That longing took me to Dynmouth on the Dorset coast of England where I anticipated pleasurable hours reading a William Trevor novel set in the 1970s. It will be a quiet read, methinks, since the story is supposed to unfold in an unspoilt seaside town complete with charming tea-shops and laces. I was sorely mistaken. The Children of Dynmouth turned out to be an unnerving story that shattered my sense of equanimity. Trevor is, as always, an inimitable master of his craft. I had forgotten, however, how brilliantly he can tell an unsettling story. The central character is Timothy Gedge, a 15-year-old latch-key youth with predatory, hungry eyes and a creepy smile. He loiters in town, peers into people’s houses, eavesdrops on conversations, and attends funerals of complete strangers. He invites himself to super with the Abigails every Wednesday evening. He does odd jobs for them, albeit shoddily, to earn pocket money. However, Mrs Abigail does not know that he goes through her drawers in her bedroom. He stops people in their tracks, makes empty conversations, and demands attention for his rude jokes or stories. Timothy’s “chatterbox eccentricity” seems merely annoying at first, but it becomes so gratingly intrusive that I cannot help feeling a surge of sadistic gladness whenever he is told to go away. The vicarage is gearing up for an Easter fête and the annual “Spot a Talent” show. Timothy becomes fixated with the idea of staging a gruesome one-man comedy of a man who murdered his three wives in a bath. His obsession to win sets in motion a devious plan to secure the props he needs: curtains, a bathtub, a wedding gown and an officer’s suit. Timothy begins to blackmail his neighbors by threatening to reveal their secrets. He fabricates lies or spouts vicious half-truths that gnaw at the fragile threads that hold families together. (view spoiler)[Mrs Abigail gains cruel insight into reasons for her long, virginal marriage. Twelve-year-old Stephen grieves anew the loss of his mother whom he was made to believe had been murdered. Miss Lavant is exposed and mocked for sharing imaginary meals with the married doctor whom she loves to no avail. The elderly Dass couple bleeds afresh to be reminded of why their son has left them (hide spoiler)] . In the upheavals that arise from Timothy’s unravelling of secrets that are none of his business, truth is revealed in its gory complexity. We learn that "..Timothy had not told lies entirely. The grey shadows drifted, one into another. The truth was insidious, never blatant, never just facts." The truth can be liberating but it comes at grave personal costs that the affected Dynmouth individuals are ill-prepared to bear. Although Timothy hounds his kindly neighbors with diabolical intent and is perceived to be demon-possessed, he used to be a child with winning ways. What happened along the way? (view spoiler)[The vicar lets on that Timothy’s mother sells clothes in a shop, that his “anonymous” father has abandoned the family and that “The boy had become what he was while no one was looking.” And herein lies the horror. The ordinariness of circumstances – neglect and rejection in Timothy’s case – carries within the aloof mundanity an insidious power of waste and destruction. The vicar astutely observes that Dynmouth may be a pretty seaside resort, "But you couldn't drap prettiness over Timothy Gedge. He had grown around him a shell because a shell was necessary... His eyes were the eyes of the battered except that no one had ever battered Timothy Gedge." (hide spoiler)] Children are notoriously vulnerable. It is not as if Timothy was ever subjected to harsh abuse but he is damaged all the same. His creepy strangeness is baffling and yet not. The vicar sums it up well, “You couldn't understand it and mockingly it seemed that you weren't meant to: it was all just there, a small-scale catastrophe, quite ordinary although it seemed not to be." Trevor succeeds in developing a disturbing portrait of an unsavory youth who engenders little sympathy. The callousness we are made to feel toward Timothy Gedge is what makes him a tragic character. The Children of Dynmouth merits five unsettling but remarkable stars.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Paul Fulcher

    Those who didn't like gravy were indicated also, for there was often trouble where gravy was concerned. My first William Trevor novel, read for the Trevor vs. Ali Smith knockout round of the 2019 Mookse Madness (https://www.goodreads.com/topic/group...) - except this book turned out to have been eliminated in a previous round and advanced by mistake. Set in the early 1970s, the novel is set in the fictional small sea-side town of Dynmouth. Part of the novel's attraction, read 45 years later and as Those who didn't like gravy were indicated also, for there was often trouble where gravy was concerned. My first William Trevor novel, read for the Trevor vs. Ali Smith knockout round of the 2019 Mookse Madness (https://www.goodreads.com/topic/group...) - except this book turned out to have been eliminated in a previous round and advanced by mistake. Set in the early 1970s, the novel is set in the fictional small sea-side town of Dynmouth. Part of the novel's attraction, read 45 years later and as someone who was born at the same time as the 4 year old twins featured in the story, is how Trevor very much captures England at that time. On the one hand meals-on-wheels, and Opportunity Knocks and on the other the local gang, the Dynmouth Hards, who regularly attack the one non-white face in the town ‘the Pakistani from the steam laundry’ as part of an almost checklist-based regime of menace: - leathers on - tick - girlfriend on back of bike - tick - attack the man from the laundry - tick - terrorise the local nurse - tick - spray pay racist graffiti - tick - destroy a bench - tick But the plot is driven by 15-year old Timothy Gedge, a memorable if not entirely realistic creation, who devises a bizarre and disturbing routine for the local talent show and then proceeds to blackmail most of the local residents with secrets observed in his wanderings around town (including a married man to whom Gedge's revelation of his true sexuality seems as big a surprise to the man as it is to his wife) in order to obtain the props he needs. The black humour and disturbing story is rather muted by a thread that concerns the local clergyman and his wife - the former concerned at his impotence in being able to genuinely help his parishioners, and something of a redemptive ending to the novel involving the latter. Worthwhile but no Ali Smith. 3.5 stars

  7. 4 out of 5

    Jonathan Pool

    This is my first William Trevor novel, and as the UK prepares to exit Europe in 2019, the timing of my read is appropriate; The Children of Dynmouth was written in 1976, immediately after Harold Wilson’s referendum on EU membership one year earlier, in 1975. The portrait of Dynmouth (population 4139) is expertly laid out by Trevor. It’s a local community content to concentrate on local matters, with British television and film (James Bond, of course, Randall & Hopkirk (deceased)), and three banks This is my first William Trevor novel, and as the UK prepares to exit Europe in 2019, the timing of my read is appropriate; The Children of Dynmouth was written in 1976, immediately after Harold Wilson’s referendum on EU membership one year earlier, in 1975. The portrait of Dynmouth (population 4139) is expertly laid out by Trevor. It’s a local community content to concentrate on local matters, with British television and film (James Bond, of course, Randall & Hopkirk (deceased)), and three banks (Lloyd’s, Barclays, and the National Westminster). The Simon Cowell of fifty years ago was Hughie Green, encouraging the belief that Opportunity Knocks for the undiscovered. Young adolescents spent time not on Play Stations, but studying Wisden, and the myriad of possibilities afforded by County cricket averages. It’s a different, simpler, more socially incestuous pace of life in western England in the 1970’s; more inward looking, than the modern age of cable TV and social media. It’s a moment in time wonderfully captured by Trevor- the book set between 1970-1974. The narrative, and plot gives the author the chance to dig beneath the surface of the seemingly law abiding, god fearing residents of Dynmouth. Central to which is fifteen year old Timothy Gedge. Its a clever age to ascribe to your anti hero. Notionally still a child, Timothy is no novice when it comes to his ability to delve into secrets, and irritate even the most indulgent adult. Timothy is a petty thief, he's constantly snooping, he blackmails; there's an implicit sense that he has the potential to cause real harm to children younger than himself. The Children of Dynmouth is well worth a read for Timothy alone. The reader is drawn into Timothy's plotting, and his faux matey persona... "cheers".. a man/ child lacking basic social graces. In everything he said there were wisps of mockery (146) I was reading a book that had five stars in prospect, and I only changed my mind when Timothy left centre stage and William Trevor gives voice (via Lavinia Featherston) to wider ranging questions of morality and of whether its "bad luck to be born damaged" (210), or as consequence of bad parenting. This reflection is evidently why Trevor titled the book The Children of Dynmouth. The insight didn't work for me, and especially against the devilish Timothy, this element of the novel lacked something, hence a small downgrade.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Katie Lumsden

    I really enjoyed this - it's a really interesting and creepy exploration of village life in a small and claustrophobic place. The writing was great and the characterisation and atmosphere so well done. I really enjoyed this - it's a really interesting and creepy exploration of village life in a small and claustrophobic place. The writing was great and the characterisation and atmosphere so well done.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Roberto

    Cheers! Ugh that Timothy Gedge is just so creepy and repugnant isn't he? And yet utterly hilarious. Seriously he is BRILLIANT. A perfectly pitched novel of creeping unease and Seventies skeeviness in a British seaside town, I absolutely loved everything about it. Cheers! Ugh that Timothy Gedge is just so creepy and repugnant isn't he? And yet utterly hilarious. Seriously he is BRILLIANT. A perfectly pitched novel of creeping unease and Seventies skeeviness in a British seaside town, I absolutely loved everything about it.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Laura Canning

    Seriously creepy! William Trevor is one of my favourite authors - and my favourite short story writer - and he does this brilliantly as always. What is actually wrong with Timothy Gedge? The references to him being 'bewildered' when his victims run away from him or shout at him suggest social ineptitude, but he is clearly also shown to be malicious, and Kate thinks he is possessed. The whole 'small seaside town' and its introspective nature is so well done too. To have thought of a character lik Seriously creepy! William Trevor is one of my favourite authors - and my favourite short story writer - and he does this brilliantly as always. What is actually wrong with Timothy Gedge? The references to him being 'bewildered' when his victims run away from him or shout at him suggest social ineptitude, but he is clearly also shown to be malicious, and Kate thinks he is possessed. The whole 'small seaside town' and its introspective nature is so well done too. To have thought of a character like Timothy Gedge is a mark of a great imagination, but to place it so well and have all the other characters really makes this novel. Highly recommended.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Terri

    This bittersweet novel by the great writer William Trevor is truly a classic in every way. The story of a small British village and the lives of the people who live in it. His characters are unforgettable, especially his portrait of an adolescent boy who both disturbs and compels the entire village with his spying. Five stars.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Leslie

    God, William Trevor is brilliant. This story of a strange, misfit teenager in a coastal town opens up, as so much of Trevor's fiction does, into the astonishing breadth and depth of the mysteries of human experience (I know that sounds pretentious--blame me for that, not Trevor). Now the same sort of boy would be hanging out in the nastier sort of Reddit chatrooms and trolling online and igniting flame wars for the lulz. God, William Trevor is brilliant. This story of a strange, misfit teenager in a coastal town opens up, as so much of Trevor's fiction does, into the astonishing breadth and depth of the mysteries of human experience (I know that sounds pretentious--blame me for that, not Trevor). Now the same sort of boy would be hanging out in the nastier sort of Reddit chatrooms and trolling online and igniting flame wars for the lulz.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Val

    Dynmouth is a West Country seaside town with residents of all ages and classes and in influx of visitors in season. There are several adults, often with secrets hidden behind a respectable facade, but the main characters in this novel are some of its children and one fifteen-year-old boy called Timothy Gedge in particular. Timothy is a disturbed and disturbing boy, who does some rather unpleasant things, including spying on the adults and attempting to manipulate them or upset them. It is diffic Dynmouth is a West Country seaside town with residents of all ages and classes and in influx of visitors in season. There are several adults, often with secrets hidden behind a respectable facade, but the main characters in this novel are some of its children and one fifteen-year-old boy called Timothy Gedge in particular. Timothy is a disturbed and disturbing boy, who does some rather unpleasant things, including spying on the adults and attempting to manipulate them or upset them. It is difficult to like Timothy, but we also feel sorry for him; he wants to be noticed and liked, and his manipulations are designed to persuade those adults to help him put together the props for a macabre comedy routine for the church fete's talent contest. He dreams of being discovered and appearing on the television talent show of the time, 'Opportunity Knocks', where everyone from the town will see him and be amazed by his unusual comic talent. Meanwhile he wanders the town and beach in the rain, friendless and ignored (unless he approaches people), despite his distinctive yellow attire. While our sympathies may be with Timothy rather than the adults whose grubby secrets he uncovers, Trevor is too finely nuanced a writer for such a pat story-line. When his victims are the other main child characters of the novel, Stephen and Kate, whose widowed father and divorced mother respectively have recently married, our sympathy for Timothy vanishes (although Trevor does remind us of it with a poignant ending).

  14. 5 out of 5

    JacquiWine

    My fascination with the work of William Trevor continues apace with his 1976 novel, The Children of Dynmouth, the story of a malevolent teenager and the havoc he wreaks on the residents of a sleepy seaside town. It’s a brilliant book, one that veers between the darkly comic, the deeply tragic and the downright unnerving. I can definitely envisage it being one of my highlights of the year. The novel revolves around Timothy Gedge, an ungainly fifteen-year-old boy who spends much of his time hanging My fascination with the work of William Trevor continues apace with his 1976 novel, The Children of Dynmouth, the story of a malevolent teenager and the havoc he wreaks on the residents of a sleepy seaside town. It’s a brilliant book, one that veers between the darkly comic, the deeply tragic and the downright unnerving. I can definitely envisage it being one of my highlights of the year. The novel revolves around Timothy Gedge, an ungainly fifteen-year-old boy who spends much of his time hanging around the town of Dynmouth, pestering people with his unfunny jokes and unwelcome small talk. Timothy has grown up as a latch-key child, left to his own devices with very little in the way of family support. The boy’s mother and older sister are as thick as thieves, locked in their own private clique, largely at the exclusion of Timothy himself. Moreover, there is no male role model for Timothy to look up to, his father having upped and left the family home not long after he was born. Perhaps as a consequence of this, Timothy has turned out to be a very strange boy indeed – a point that Quentin Featherston, the local vicar, frequently considers. He was a strange boy, always at a loose end. His mother was a good-looking woman with brassy hair who sold women’s clothes in a shop called Cha-Cha Fashions, his sister was six or seven years older than Timothy, good-looking also, employed as a petrol-pump attendant on the forecourt of the Smiling Service Filling Station: Quentin knew them both by sight. In adolescence, unfortunately, the boy was increasingly becoming a nuisance to people, endlessly friendly and smiling, keen for conversation. He was what Lavinia called a latch-key child, returning to the empty flat in Cornerways from the Comprehensive school, on his own in it all day during the school holidays. Being on his own seemed somehow to have become part of him. (p. 9) At first, Timothy comes across as being a bit slow, a child with learning difficulties or behavioural issues. However, as the narrative unfolds, a more sinister facet of his personality soon begins to emerge. There is a malevolent side to the boy, a deliberately vicious streak that manifests itself in several ways. Timothy loiters around the town, watching people’s movements, peering through their windows, and listening in to private conversations – all with the intention of using any information gained to its full advantage. More specifically, Timothy knows why Commander Abigail likes to hang around the beach on the pretence of going for a swim; he knows that Miss Lavant loves Dr Greenslade from afar, setting an imaginary place for him at her dining-room table; and he knows that Mr Plant is having an affair with Mrs Gedge, one of several women the local publican appears to have on the go at once. Funerals are another source of fascination for Timothy, to the extent that he hangs around at the graveside, even when the deceased is unknown to him. To read the rest of my review, please visit: https://jacquiwine.wordpress.com/2020...

  15. 4 out of 5

    Lukas Anthony

    It’s always interesting to read a new author and not really know what to expect. Reading the synopsis for this novel, it sort of gives you the impression that you’re going to get a bit of a low-key thriller involving a creepy kid, but what you really get is an examination of loneliness through the eyes of someone who has been abandoned by those around him (albeit because he IS very creepy) and the breakdown of village life by an outsider who knows and uses all their secrets.    Timothy Gedge is qu It’s always interesting to read a new author and not really know what to expect. Reading the synopsis for this novel, it sort of gives you the impression that you’re going to get a bit of a low-key thriller involving a creepy kid, but what you really get is an examination of loneliness through the eyes of someone who has been abandoned by those around him (albeit because he IS very creepy) and the breakdown of village life by an outsider who knows and uses all their secrets.    Timothy Gedge is quite the creation, half annoying child - half master blackmailer, Trevor imbues the character with a commendable level of spunk, whilst also making sure to keep the creep factor at a level that never tips over into likability. He’s always just a little *too* weird, or a little *too* calculated for you to get behind how he goes about attempting to destroy his fellow villagers lives, resulting in a novel full of characters who can best be described as ‘grey’.    It’s an interesting tale that truthfully took me a little while to fully immerse myself in, and if there’s anything negative to say here it’s that it simply began to end just as it began to truly engage me, resulting in a finale that felt a little deflated considering the expectations that had risen as the novel continued.     Overall, Trevor is definitely an author I plan to read a bit more of, especially since his novels now come in all MATCHING editions! Thank you publisher, you’ve done good work 🙏

  16. 4 out of 5

    Carolyn

    Another almost perfect William Trevor novel. I wish I'd discovered him years ago - there is a large body of work to get through: I understand he was renowned for his short stories as well as his novels. Trevor was born in Ireland in 1928 and died last year (2016). The other novels I've read have been set in Ireland but this one is set in the English west country where Trevor lived for most of his adult life. The title of the novel suggests innocence - but even from a short acquaintance with Trev Another almost perfect William Trevor novel. I wish I'd discovered him years ago - there is a large body of work to get through: I understand he was renowned for his short stories as well as his novels. Trevor was born in Ireland in 1928 and died last year (2016). The other novels I've read have been set in Ireland but this one is set in the English west country where Trevor lived for most of his adult life. The title of the novel suggests innocence - but even from a short acquaintance with Trevor's work I knew that it would contain dark elements. The key figures are the children, Stephen and Kate, whose parents have recently married and the strange adolescent, Timothy Gedge. In the week the parents are honeymooning abroad, Timothy sets out to destroy Stephen and Kate's innocence. He is a peeping Tom who wanders the village and discovers unsettling secrets - not only about the death of Stephen's mother but also about the habits and proclivities of the village's adults. Trevor uses language brilliantly - particularly his descriptions and dialogue - to show us the inner lives of characters. Adult as well as child characters are well drawn and we come to understand that even though there are people like Mrs Blakey for whom clouds are there 'for the harvesting of their silver linings', there are others who hide unhappiness, even from themselves, and others who go through life so carelessly that they create misery for others. Timothy's mother is such a person and Trevor allows us to understand how Timothy has become the nasty, scheming and destructive boy that he is. A compelling read: 4 and a half stars.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Abigail Van Alyn

    For me, William Trevor is a writer far outside the star ranking system. How does (now did) he do it? Through one spare and elegant description after another, of things seen and heard from a cool distance, he breaks your heart for the decaying town of Dynmouth and all its yearning and enduring residents. And especially for Timothy Gedge, the awkward, devious, broken boy at the heart of the story. There's never a sense that Trevor wants us to DO something: care more, maybe. He simply stands, obser For me, William Trevor is a writer far outside the star ranking system. How does (now did) he do it? Through one spare and elegant description after another, of things seen and heard from a cool distance, he breaks your heart for the decaying town of Dynmouth and all its yearning and enduring residents. And especially for Timothy Gedge, the awkward, devious, broken boy at the heart of the story. There's never a sense that Trevor wants us to DO something: care more, maybe. He simply stands, observers, and (for me anyway) shatters the reader's carefully constructed equilibrium.

  18. 5 out of 5

    peg

    I read this as part of the Mookse Madness tournament of books. Set in a small town in The 1970’s it has many well-drawn characters but the main one is an evil twisted 15 year old boy who sets much of the plot in motion.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Claudio

    This held my attention throughout. The central character is so compelling and extreme but sadly believable. The shadowy pursuits of some of the residents of Dynmouth gradually come to the surface and relationships are tested. I especially loved the little comic book author names interspersed throughout.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Claire Fuller

    So good, so disturbing. Timothy is an odd 15 year old boy wandering around a seaside English town in April. He becomes fixated on things, especially an idea he has to perform a comic sketch at the Easter fete about the real murder of three women in a bath. If that sounds odd, it is. Timothy is such an unsettling character. He spies on people in the town, sometimes learning the truth, often making it up. And he goes about trying to procure the things he needs for his act from the people that he s So good, so disturbing. Timothy is an odd 15 year old boy wandering around a seaside English town in April. He becomes fixated on things, especially an idea he has to perform a comic sketch at the Easter fete about the real murder of three women in a bath. If that sounds odd, it is. Timothy is such an unsettling character. He spies on people in the town, sometimes learning the truth, often making it up. And he goes about trying to procure the things he needs for his act from the people that he spies on: a bath, a wedding dress, and a man's suit, and in the process disturbing other people's lives. It's partly about the dreams of children, and also about what it is that children need for them to grow into healthy, happy adults. Not my favourite Trevor, but very very good.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Frank

    Small town evils on the Dorset coast: a woman dies mysteriously by falling from a cliff and her husband almost immediately remarries the local divorcée; a retired man who never consummated his marriage of 38-years is accused of paederasty; the landlord of the local public house is seen at all hours in compromising positions; an invalid woman and her husband are vociferously berated for overprotection by their darling boy as he departs the village forever; the vicar's dwindling flock do not rega Small town evils on the Dorset coast: a woman dies mysteriously by falling from a cliff and her husband almost immediately remarries the local divorcée; a retired man who never consummated his marriage of 38-years is accused of paederasty; the landlord of the local public house is seen at all hours in compromising positions; an invalid woman and her husband are vociferously berated for overprotection by their darling boy as he departs the village forever; the vicar's dwindling flock do not regard him as highly as his predecessor and let him know in various passive-aggressive ways; a middle-aged spinster continues to carry a torch for the married village physician, who may have sired a child by her. Family secrets for the most part, threatened to be made public by an extremely troubled and frightening fifteen-year-old, Timothy Gredge (his very name has overtones of Dickensian malice). What drives Timothy's subtle extortion? Not money, but for the most part props: Timothy wants to do a skit in the church's "Spot the Talent" contest, acting out the story of an Edwardian serial killer known as "The Bride in a Bath Murdered", one George Joseph Smith (a real historical character whose likeness Timothy saw displayed in Madam Tussaud's on a school outing). Trevor is at his devilish best, creating an uncomfortable sense of foreboding while maintaining a wickedly humorous small town world. It would be interesting to compare The Children of Dynmouth with J.K. Rowling’s newest work, The Casual Vacancy , similarly set in a small, West Country town.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Alan

    Timothy Gedge, an adolescent in yellow, is the stuff of nightmares, intimidating and manipulative of children and adults, able to be so because of his creeping about observing their every foible and sin. Trevor is masterful at building up tension as Gedge goes about the 70s Dorset seaside town, getting people to give him things for his projected slot in the Spot a Talent competition at the Easter fete. A wedding dress, a tin bath, a dog toothed suit for a macabre recreation of the brides in the Timothy Gedge, an adolescent in yellow, is the stuff of nightmares, intimidating and manipulative of children and adults, able to be so because of his creeping about observing their every foible and sin. Trevor is masterful at building up tension as Gedge goes about the 70s Dorset seaside town, getting people to give him things for his projected slot in the Spot a Talent competition at the Easter fete. A wedding dress, a tin bath, a dog toothed suit for a macabre recreation of the brides in the bath murder, that he'd seen on a trip to Madame Tussauds. While he does so the whole town is exposed: The Commander goes 'homo-ing about', the publican has sex in the toilet with various wives etc. Great little novel, which brought back a lot of memories for me, Petula Clark and Hughie Green with Opportunity Knocks, double bills at the cinema - in fact it seemed a little earlier than the mid-70s, maybe late 60s.

  23. 5 out of 5

    jeniwren

    Timothy Gedge is an interesting and compelling character and now pondering how he was so oddly motivated in his way of manipulating the truth. Was he evil or just the product of bad parenting that made him a very sad and lonely teenager? Great read and will be interested in reading more from this author.

  24. 5 out of 5

    rosamund

    Set in a small, middle-class town in 70s England, this novel centres on Timothy Gedge, a neglected teenager who has become a sinister presence. This is the earliest of Trevor's novels that I've read, and it's interesting to see familiar elements from his story-telling that haven't been developed as they will be in his later novels. We have a sense of disillusionment, intense isolation, and loss, as well as an undercurrent of trauma. Trevor remains subtle as well -- he creates a menacing atmosphe Set in a small, middle-class town in 70s England, this novel centres on Timothy Gedge, a neglected teenager who has become a sinister presence. This is the earliest of Trevor's novels that I've read, and it's interesting to see familiar elements from his story-telling that haven't been developed as they will be in his later novels. We have a sense of disillusionment, intense isolation, and loss, as well as an undercurrent of trauma. Trevor remains subtle as well -- he creates a menacing atmosphere with no graphic violence. But the elements do not come together as effectively as in some of his later novels, and I didn't find this as gripping. My big objection to this book is that the narrative implies that homosexuality and pedophilia are the same.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Rosemary

    Everything I've read by William Trevor has been unsettling, and this book is no exception. Timothy Gedge is dreadful, a creepy blackmailing teenager who made me want to keep looking over my shoulder to check he hadn't escaped from the book to peer in at my windows. Everything I've read by William Trevor has been unsettling, and this book is no exception. Timothy Gedge is dreadful, a creepy blackmailing teenager who made me want to keep looking over my shoulder to check he hadn't escaped from the book to peer in at my windows.

  26. 5 out of 5

    JimZ

    I started to read William Trevor’s books in the late 1990s and consider him as one of my favorite authors. His fiction and short stories are equally good. I joined GoodReads about 2 months ago and wanted to start to build up my library/books read here, since I do enjoy reading. I gave this book an A in my rating system some 22 years ago! Apparently others liked it too - it won the Whitbread Award in 1976. Also these: Allied Irish Banks Prize for fiction; Heinemann Award for Fiction;Shortlisted f I started to read William Trevor’s books in the late 1990s and consider him as one of my favorite authors. His fiction and short stories are equally good. I joined GoodReads about 2 months ago and wanted to start to build up my library/books read here, since I do enjoy reading. I gave this book an A in my rating system some 22 years ago! Apparently others liked it too - it won the Whitbread Award in 1976. Also these: Allied Irish Banks Prize for fiction; Heinemann Award for Fiction;Shortlisted for the Booker Prize.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Steve Smits

    The great William Trevor passed away this week. I have long so admired his writing and he leaves us with some of the most entrancing works in our language. He was widely known for his short stories, surely one of the century's great craftsmen of this genre. His novels are similarly jewels of writing. A short time ago I purchased from one of the remainder websites a set of Penguin reprints of his early novels none of which I had read before except the marvelous novella "Nights at the Alexandra". The great William Trevor passed away this week. I have long so admired his writing and he leaves us with some of the most entrancing works in our language. He was widely known for his short stories, surely one of the century's great craftsmen of this genre. His novels are similarly jewels of writing. A short time ago I purchased from one of the remainder websites a set of Penguin reprints of his early novels none of which I had read before except the marvelous novella "Nights at the Alexandra". That work was actually the first of his I read years ago and was completely captivated by his extraordinarily luminous and supple prose. The "Children of Dynmouth" follows a motif seen in many of his works. Dynmouth is a rather ordinary sea side resort town inhabited by unremarkable people. There is Quentin Featherston, the vicar, and his wife Lavinia. He is struggling with a declining congregation and she from the despondency of a recent miscarriage. Commodore Abigail and his wife live quietly in retirement, having long ago worked out a functional pattern of marital relationship. The Dass's are likewise, he retired from banking and she an invalid. Mr. Plant operates the local pub. Step-siblings Stephen and Kate are twelve-years old who have just come to live together when his widowed father and her divorced mother wed. Into this fairly placid setting emerges Timothy Gedge. Timothy is fifteen-years old, the son of a mother whose husband abandoned the family and with an older sister. His family pretty much ignores Timothy who is free to roam the town without supervision or question. Timothy is an odd and lonely boy who has gotten the notion that he can become famous by staging a morbid comedy sketch at the upcoming fund raising talent show sponsored by the church. He fantasizes that the host of a national TV show somehow will see his act and propel him to stardom. To put on his performance, he needs certain props that others can provide -- a derelict bathtub, a suit of clothes, a wedding dress and curtains for the stage. Timothy has a manner of cheerfully and unrelentingly attempting to ingratiate himself to others and he uses this to worm his way into the lives of those whose help he needs. They all perceive him as a pest, but Timothy is a snoop who claims awareness of the secrets of others and hints that he will remain discreet if only they will help him get what he needs for his act. While giving the appearance of amiability and good will he torments others in the most vicious and destructive manner conceivable. In modern typology Timothy would clearly be consider sociopathic. The subjects of his manipulations are devastated by his claims to hold their secrets, some of which have a basis in truth and others false. Without revealing the secrets or the denouement, Timothy's fantasy is not realized, but the others are left permanently affected by his interactions with them. As is often seen in Trevor's stories, beneath the calm and benign surface of people's lives lay angst, turmoil and shame. William Trevor, you will be greatly missed.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Ethan Chapman

    The best book I've read in a long time. Chilling and funny but altogether unnerving. A boy, in the pursuit of what he wants, decides to leave his town in a muddled state of undress. Going from person to person, each owning an item that he needs for a Spot the Talent! competition, he befriends them and cunningly blackmails them. We're somewhat unsure if he knows what he's doing initially; he's left confused by people's outbursts at him, telling them to leave him alone, telling him to stop. He sta The best book I've read in a long time. Chilling and funny but altogether unnerving. A boy, in the pursuit of what he wants, decides to leave his town in a muddled state of undress. Going from person to person, each owning an item that he needs for a Spot the Talent! competition, he befriends them and cunningly blackmails them. We're somewhat unsure if he knows what he's doing initially; he's left confused by people's outbursts at him, telling them to leave him alone, telling him to stop. He stands there unsure of what he's done to warrant this response. Until we realise that behind his eyes and his smile is someone very cunning, who can change his reality at the drop of a hat, and no matter how hard the people of Dynmouth try to understand him, they're left with only more questions. This was something special, something very special indeed.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Jo

    I love William Trevor's short stories and this is the first of his novels I've read. As always, I took pleasure in reading his wonderful prose and loved the characters he'd created here. William Trevor writes about small communities so well. This felt like a long short story rather than a novel. There was a distinct lack of narrative tension for me. However, I was eager to see how the novel ended. It went out with a whimper rather than a bang, but that is very much William Trevor's style. The st I love William Trevor's short stories and this is the first of his novels I've read. As always, I took pleasure in reading his wonderful prose and loved the characters he'd created here. William Trevor writes about small communities so well. This felt like a long short story rather than a novel. There was a distinct lack of narrative tension for me. However, I was eager to see how the novel ended. It went out with a whimper rather than a bang, but that is very much William Trevor's style. The story has resonance and I've found myself thinking about it in the hours since I turned the last page. Intriguing characters and a wonderful sense of place.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Delphine

    Every village has its fool, and Dynmouth, a small seaside resort, has 15-year-old Timothy Gedge, a sharp observator of hidden human drama. Slowly every villager's life starts to unravel under Timothy's pressure. Again, Trevor shows himself to be a brilliant designer of character, understanding and feeling empathy for human weaknesses, even for poor Timothy Gedge. Every village has its fool, and Dynmouth, a small seaside resort, has 15-year-old Timothy Gedge, a sharp observator of hidden human drama. Slowly every villager's life starts to unravel under Timothy's pressure. Again, Trevor shows himself to be a brilliant designer of character, understanding and feeling empathy for human weaknesses, even for poor Timothy Gedge.

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