(Critical Guide to British Fiction)

The setting of Troubles is a dilapidated hotel on the Irish Sea, owned by a fierce Anglo-Irishman, Edward Spencer, who has neither the money nor the will to repair the rambling, rotting, three-hundred-room structure. The inhabitants of the hotel, his daughter Angela Spencer, his son, his young twins, a group of elderly ladies, and an ever-increasing horde of cats, are so preoccupied with their own survival in the collapsing building that they are only incidentally aware of the collapse of English rule in Ireland, which is to conclude with the establishment of Ireland as a republic only one year after the end of the novel.

The events of Troubles are seen through the somewhat bemused consciousness of Brendan Archer, who comes to Kilnalough to see Angela, to whom he became engaged three years before, after a slight acquaintance. His initiation into life at the Majestic Hotel leaves him confused. Told to choose a room, he finds one which seems reasonably pleasant, though dusty; unfortunately, he has no sheets, and before long he has a more serious problem, a decaying sheep’s head in his closet. As the days proceed, Angela disappears, and he cannot seem to find out where she is. Inquiries of the servants are met with a language he cannot understand, and he is too well-bred to bother his host. For a man with war nerves, the atmosphere at the Majestic is not ideal, what with a blind grandmother mysteriously appearing out of dark recesses, cats creeping out of homes inside the overstuffed furniture, and occasional terrorist shots and explosions. Archer settles into life at the Majestic, however,...

(The entire section is 661 words.)


(Critical Guide to British Fiction)

Busch, Frederick. Review in Saturday Review. LIV (September 24, 1971), p. 38.

Levin, Martin. Review in The New York Times Book Review. LXIV (September 12, 1971), p. 48.

Lopez, J. B. Review in Library Journal. XCVI (September 15, 1971), p. 2790.

Mercier, Vivian. Review in The Nation. CCXIII (November 8, 1971), p. 472.

The Times Literary Supplement. Review. January 22, 1971, p. 85.