A Bit on the Side by William Trevor


The dozen stories in this book are very intense, beautifully told stories that are as unsparing as you can imagine.  A small dose of this view of humanity is the right size dose.  Some stories are set in London, others in an Ireland that seems long past. 

There's the story of the twosome, matched by a dating agency, meeting in a theatre bar (brilliant idea, when everyone goes into the play, you know who your date is).  He's looking for someone to drive him and his photo equipment around London for his project, she's looking for companionship now that her mother has died.  When he learns she doesn't have a car, he maneuvers her to go to dinner with him, so the evening won't be a total loss.  " 'Shall I order the wine?" Jeffrey offered, "D'you mind?"  He never said beforehand that he intended not to pay.  Better just to let it happen, he always thought."  A couple she recognized from her building appear with another couple and she is glad to be seen with a younger man.

So beautifully written and so grim.

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