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Ls-Natural Angels Set 101-188

The first story in the collection, "The Piano Teacher's Pupil", introduces us to one of Trevor's typical characters: a reserved and passive person who faces a moral dilemma. The protagonist is Miss Nightingale, an elderly piano teacher who discovers that her most talented student, a young boy, is also a compulsive thief. Every time he comes for a lesson, he steals something from her house: a figurine, a brooch, a scarf. Miss Nightingale does not confront him or tell anyone about his habit, but she starts to question her own life and the people she has known. She wonders if she has been deceived by her father, who left her mother for another woman; by the boy, who pretended to admire her; and by herself, who wanted to believe in the goodness of others. She reflects: "If a lonely father had been a calculating man it mattered less now... She had been the victim, too, of the boy who had shown off to her... She had been the victim of herself, of her careless credulity, her wanting to believe what seemed to be" (9).

Ls-Natural Angels Set 101-188

The theme of self-deception and lack of empathy continues in the next stories. In "The Caffà Daria", Anita is a widow who runs a cafà with her husband's lover, Claire. Anita never forgave Claire for having an affair with Gervaise, but she accepted her help after his death. However, when Claire tries to rekindle their friendship and invites Anita to visit her in Italy, Anita rejects her offer and cuts off all contact with her. Anita's resentment and indifference prevent her from seeing Claire's genuine affection and remorse. In "Taking Mr Ravenswood", Rosanne is a bank clerk who gets involved with two men: Mr Ravenswood, a wealthy and lonely widower who asks her out for dinner; and Keith, her abusive and greedy boyfriend who urges her to extort money from Mr Ravenswood. Rosanne is more interested in Mr Ravenswood's luxurious lifestyle than in his tragic past: he confesses to her that he caused his wife's death in a car accident, but she does not listen or comfort him. She also fails to break free from Keith's manipulation and violence. Rosanne lacks empathy for both men and for herself.

"Mrs Crasthorpe" is Trevor's homage to James Joyce's "A Painful Case", as both stories feature a middle-aged woman who dies in an accident and a man who regrets not having paid more attention to her. Mrs Crasthorpe is an unhappy wife and mother who dreams of escaping from her dull existence and becoming an educated and refined lady. She meets Etheridge, a solicitor who shares her love for literature and art, but he does not reciprocate her romantic feelings. He is only mildly curious about her life and does not know that she has a lover: Eddie Quinlan, a criminal who often ends up in jail. Mrs Crasthorpe is torn between two worlds: the one she aspires to and the one she cannot leave behind.

The most subtle story in the collection is "The Unknown Girl", which explores the contrast between different levels of empathy among three characters. Mrs Harriet Balfour is a wealthy widow who lives comfortably with her son Stephen in a beautiful house full of memories of her late husband. She is a respectable and charitable woman who hires a young girl as a cleaner, but does not bother to learn much about her. One day, she receives a visit from Father Meade, a priest who tells her that the girl has died in suspicious circumstances. He feels guilty for not having helped her more and asks Mrs Balfour to pray for her soul. Mrs Balfour agrees, but she does not feel any connection or compassion for the unknown girl. She is more concerned about her son's reaction: Stephen is a successful paediatrician who has no interest in religion or morality. He dismisses Father Meade's request as irrelevant and absurd. He also reveals that he knew the girl was pregnant and that he refused to help her when she came to his clinic. Mrs Balfour is shocked by Stephen's coldness and indifference. She realizes that she has raised him in a cocoon of privilege and security that has made him insensitive to the suffering of others.

"Making Conversation" is an unusual story in Trevor's oeuvre, as it revolves around a protagonist who acts out of a mixture of pity and revenge. Olivia is an old spinster who lives alone with her cat. She remembers how she was humiliated by a man named Vinnicombe when she was young: he approached her at a dance 0efd9a6b88


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