10 Great Books: William Trevor, Fools of Fortune

In this very first online edition of 10 Great Books, hear from Professor Philomena Murray on William Trevor's award-winning novel Fools of Fortune (1983).

Associate Professor Tim Lynch, convener of 10 Great Books, will introduce you to our speakers each month and facilitate audience questions following their presentation.

William Trevor, Fools of Fortune (1983)

Presented by Professor Philomena Murray

Fools of Fortune is a novel about an Anglo-Irish family from the early 1920s. It is a tale of loyalties, of trust and war, of grief and revenge. It is narrated by three characters – Willie, Marianne and Imelda – who are deeply affected by violence. Willie’s tutor asks him: ‘Will we tackle a bit of history?’ This book does. It is the story of a family in a Big House in Ireland and their fate in a period of unrest and violence.

This book helps us reflect on Protestantism and Catholicism, about assumptions around Irish nationalism and British identity. What is Anglo-Irish in terms of war and identity? Is it English or Irish or neither? What does it mean to be an outsider? This is a story about love and loss at a turbulent time in Irish history and about the long-lasting effects of war and conflict.

Professor Philomena Murray
Professor Philomena Murray

About Professor Philomena Murray

Professor Philomena Murray is Jean Monnet Chair ad personam at the School of Social and Political Sciences at the University of Melbourne. She is an internationally recognised expert on the European Union and a former diplomat. Like William Trevor she has regarded Ireland and Italy as home. She has lived in Australia half her life.

She holds honorary positions at Trinity College Dublin; College of Europe, Bruges; and United Nations University Institute for Comparative Regional Integration Studies.

She has been awarded many EU-funded and other research grants and led international research teams across Europe, Australia and Asia. She explores identity, belonging and narratives in her writings. She is an expert on European crises; Brexit; EU-Australia relations; comparative regionalism; EU-Asia relations; and refugee externalisation policies in Europe and Australia.

She is sought-after as a speaker and a media commentator. She set up the first curriculum on the EU in Australia.

10 Great Books: a Melbourne Masterclass

The Faculty of Arts proudly presents the book club to end all book clubs: 10 Great Books, a Melbourne Masterclass. Each month, hear leading academics and experts give their take on a text that has shaped the way we see the world.

We ask the big questions about how our selected books captured the zeitgeist and shifted the culture. The ten diverse texts will become our window into politics, art, love, death, and everything in between. Now in its seventh year, 10 Great Books has traversed the broad history of the written word, exploring great novels, non-fiction, plays, poetry, pamphlets and more.

Visit the 10 Great Books website for this year's program and speaker information.

Learn more