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Written over a span of 50 years, the stories collected here chronicle relationships in all their messy variations, from first meetings through marriages, love affairs, betrayals, abuses, and estrangements. From the Fifties to more recent times, Drabble has always skillfully depicted the experiences of women in their eras. "Hassan's Tower," for instance, deals with a disastrous honeymoon where magnified misunderstandings and unexpressed resentments underline how very little love exists in this new marriage. "Crossing the Alps" is the tale of a long-planned illicit getaway for a pair of lovers that goes terribly wrong when an illness makes one of them incapable of romance. In the affecting title story, a popular television personality who appears to balance work and life cheerfully and capably, actually lives with an abusive husband and is suffering from a serious malignancy. In "The Merry Widow," the titular character, who had silently endured years with an insufferable husband, takes herself on a much-anticipated holiday to attempt living life on her own terms. VERDICT 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.-Barbara Love, Kingston Frontenac P.L., Ont. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.
*Starred Review* British novelist Drabble, a writer of acid wit, keen plots, and psychological acuity, hasn't published many short stories. This complete volume contains 14, originally published between 1964 and 2000. Nonetheless, she uses the form with distinct poise and power. Electrifyingly precise and darkly funny, Drabble has a talent for orchestrating startling turning points and moments of truth. Journeys are a favorite conceit, as is ascension, as her characters hike up hills or lift themselves from despair. A priggish fellow on his honeymoon in Morocco is miserably alienated until he and his wife climb a tower and gain a vision of the commonality of humanity. A fuming young woman visiting Elba with friends commits an act of vandalism that stuns everyone, herself included. Drabble is eviscerating in her portrayals of women saddled with angry men, and she is intrigued with the struggles of women who have attained fame and aroused resentment, including a Nobel Prize-winning geneticist and a covertly brilliant television journalist. How profoundly Drabble understands pain and stoicism. She also has a mythic feel for landscape and the awe nature inspires, thus anchoring her masterfully drawn characters and their provocative dilemmas to the larger, living world in stories as piercing as they are dazzling.--Seaman, Donna Copyright 2010 Booklist