Synopses & Reviews
Margaret Drabbles novels have illuminated the past fifty years, especially the changing lives of women, like no others. Yet her short fiction has its own unique brilliance. Her penetrating evocations of character and place, her wide-ranging curiosity, her sense of irony—all are on display here, in stories that explore marriage, female friendships, the English tourist abroad, love affairs with houses, peace demonstrations, gin and tonics, cultural TV programs, in stories that are perceptive, sharp, and funny. With an introduction by the Spanish academic José Fernández that places the stories in the context of her life and her novels, this collection is a wonderful recapitulation of a masterly career.
“Powerful… beautifully realized.” Miami Herald
“A LOVE CHILD possesses both a palpable immediacy and a haunting afterlife.” Michiko Kakutani, New York Times
“The four pieces that make up The Grandmothers are masterpieces of artistry and intellect.” San Francisco Chronicle Book Review
“[Lessing] has never written better.” New York Times Book Review
“Stunning … showing Lessings trademark incisiveness.” Vogue
“Lessing is without peer.” Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
“A brilliantly written book … Lessing is at the top of her game.” Library Journal (starred)
“Perfectly turned works ... A grand feat, and something to smile about.”
—Elissa Schappell, Vanity Fair
“[These] glimmer with the irony, lyricism, moral vision, and amplitude we associate with Drabbles novels.”
—New York Times Book Review
“Woman in her essence: complicated, contradictory, and courageous ... Magic that will stay with us.”
—San Francisco Chronicle
"Show[s] a mastery of the [short-story] form ... Brilliantly dramatic ... Prick these moody and introspective characters, and they do bleed."
—All Things Considered
"Fascinating companions to ... Drabbles larger canon ... [They] are so well-crafted, so illustrative of Drabbles keen eye and literary talent, that their excellence is what shines through, and rightfully so."
"Landmark. A Day in the Life of a Smiling Woman documents the changing lives of women."
"A fastidious chronicler of the vagaries of womens lives in England since the early nineteen-sixties ... Drabble is one of the most versatile and accomplished writers of her generation ... A sympathetic clear-mindedness characterizes Drabbles short fiction."
—Joyce Carol Oates, The New Yorker
"These stories reveal a great deal about a writer best known for her novels ... We see Drabble honing her powerful eye for details and their meanings."
—Los Angeles Times
"Even those who have never dabbled in Drabble will enjoy this ... With her snappy pacing and signature sense of irony, Drabble gives us a sense of the various feminist growing pains progressive women have experienced over the past 50 years, and articulates some of the frustrations and triumphs were still experiencing today."
"[Drabbles] X-ray view into the female psyche is no less powerful than in her longer works. Within these compact narratives lie complex character studies that explore both what it means to be British and to be a woman in the twentieth century."
—Barnes & Noble Review
"Drabbles stories are distinguished by skillful plotting, engaging wit, supple prose and deft renderings of her characters preoccupations and inner lives."
—Washington Independent Review of Books
"Drabbles trademark is this precise examination of intimate worlds in poetic and contemplative style . . . [A Day in the Life of a Smiling Woman] offers the opportunity to chart the progress of one of modern literatures most significant writers."
"Drabble, a writer of acid wit, keen plots, and psychological acuity . . . uses the [short] form with distinct poise and power. Electrifyingly precise and darkly funny . . . Stories as piercing as they are dazzling."
"This collection from one of the United Kingdoms finest contemporary fiction writers reflects both the development of Dame Drabbles work as well as the decades in which societal expectations for women— and womens expectations of themselves— were rapidly shifting . . . Readers will enjoy following the leitmotifs of Drabbles worlds while also recognizing the evolution of her craft and the choices of her heroines."
—Publishers Weekly (starred)
"Drabbles fans will savor these bite-sized examples of her humane intelligence."
"These sharp and poignant stories will have broad appeal but will be especially nostalgic for readers who came of age in the heady dawn of feminism and who cut their literary teeth on the likes of Doris Lessing, Margaret Atwood, and Drabble herself."
In the title novel, two friends fall in love with each other's teenage sons, and these passions last for years, until the women end them, vowing a respectable old age. In Victoria and the Staveneys, a young woman gives birth to a child of mixed race and struggles with feelings of estrangement as her daughter gets drawn into a world of white privilege. The Reason for It traces the birth, faltering, and decline of an ancient culture, with enlightening modern resonances. A Love Child features a World War II soldier who believes he has fathered a love child during a fleeting wartime romance and cannot be convinced otherwise.
Famed UK novelist Margaret Drabble's complete short stories
About the Author
Doris Lessing was born in 1919. The Grass Is Singing was published in 1950, and since then she has gone on to publish more than fifty books. Named a Companion of Honour and a Companion of Literature in Great Britain, she has been awarded the David Cohen British Literature Prize, Spain's Prince of Asturias Prize, the International Catalunya Award, and the S. T. Dupont Golden PEN Award for a Lifetime's Distinguished Service to Literature. In 2007 she was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. She lives in North London.
Table of Contents
Note on the Present Edition xxi
Les Liaisons Dangereuses 1
Hassans Tower 7
A Voyage to Cythera 23
Faithful Lovers 41
A Pyrrhic Victory 53
Crossing the Alps 63
The Gifts of War 85
A Success Story 103
A Day in the Life of a Smiling Woman 115
The Merry Widow 151
The Dower House at Kellynch:
A Somerset Romance 169
The Caves of God 193
A Topographical Tale 207