Set in Europe in the aftermath of the Second World War, the nine stories in this glittering collection reflect on the foibles and dilemmas of human relationships. An English family goes to the south of France for the sake of the father’s health, and to get away from an England of rationing and poverty. A displaced person turned French soldier in Algeria now makes a living as an actor in Paris. A group of selfish English expatriates on the Italian Riviera are incredulous that Mussolini and the Germans may affect their lives. A great writer’s quiet widow blossoms in widowhood, to the surprise and alarm of her children, who send a ten-year-old grandson to Switzerland to keep her company one Christmas. Full of wry humour and penetrating insights, this is Mavis Gallant at her most unforgettable.
MAVIS GALLANT was born in Quebec, Canada, in 1922. She began her career as a journalist, before switching to fiction in 1950. She moved to Paris a decade later, and spent the rest of her life there. She published 116 stories in The New Yorker over the course of her career; in addition, she wrote two novels, a play, and a collection of essays. A recipient of the 2002 Rea Award for the Short Story and the 2004 PEN/Nabokov Award for lifetime achievement, she died in 2014 at the age of ninety-one.