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The Endless Pursuit of Chasing Your Dreams: A book review of William Boyd’s “Trio”

Book Trio by William Boyd being held between the leaves of a Monstera plant.

Trio by William Boyd has been one of those books that has grown on me. It has been months since I read it, and sometimes I review things straight away and other times I like to wait. Trio has fallen in the latter camp. The book is centred on three characters – Anny, Talbot, and Elfrida. The three characters are loosely interconnected the way that all people are. Anny is a actress, Elfrida is a writer, and Talbot is a director/photographer. All of them are extremely unhappy in their lives, and all of them are looking for something more.

Chasing your dreams and pursuing what you love is something that is taught to most of us as we grow up. In Australia, and in countries in the West, dreaming big is taught to us in school. We’re told that we are special, that we can do anything if we put our minds to it. This kind of rhetoric disregards societal oppression – as though race, gender, education, finance, and disabilities don’t affect what we have access to. So many of us dream big despite a lot of road blocks. None of this is inherently wrong. Of course we should push ourselves, of course we deserve happiness. Yet, not all of us get there. And this is what Boyd addresses in his novel, Trio.

The reader meets the three characters at times of transition and unrest. Elfrida hasn’t written a hit novel in years and she even thinks about ending her life because she doesn’t know how to move forward. Anny is a famous actress but doesn’t know how to handle the fame and she gets caught up and pulled back into a toxic relationship with her ex which will ultimately be her demise. Talbot feels lost and it seems that he hasn’t really come to terms with his sexuality. All of the characters feel like they are searching for something, yet none of them know what it is.

I could relate to that lost feeling a lot. We are still in lockdown in Melbourne, and gosh have I had a lot of time to think. Sometimes I have no clue what I am doing with my life. I feel like giving up on my blog every second week. I feel like a failure on the daily. What happens when you pursue your dreams and keep hitting walls? I wouldn’t take advice from any of the characters of Trio, but feeling like I am not alone with feeling stuck has been a small salvation. Despite the characters in Trio being complicated and not always likeable, their relate-ability is what makes Trio a great book. The desperation and the desire that irradiates from the characters is palpable.

Some of the characters break free from feeling trapped, and others find freedom in more tragic ways. The unanswered question of Boyd, What are you doing with your life? seems to stay with you long after you close the book.

What are you reading at the moment? Are you also feeling stuck? I hope you are being kind to yourself. As always share the reading love.