Open a book this minute and start reading. Don’t move until you’ve reached page fifty. Until you’ve buried your thoughts in print. Cover yourself with words. Wash yourself away. Dissolve. Carol Shields Republic of Love

Mavis Gallant’s “Its Image in the Mirror”

At nearly one hundred pages long, it’s unsurprising that this is the most complex of Mavis Gallant’s stories I’ve read this year. It’s neither the length nor the breadth of the story which complicates it, but the intricate arrangement of details, as readers are gradually immersed in the narration of Jean Price.

She is not […]

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Mavis Gallant’s “The Moabitess”

Miss Horeham seems to have walked straight out of a Barbara Pym novel: an older woman with standards which are disappointed with some regularity.

She has lived in this pension for long enough to see families come and go, long enough to recognise the rhythms of the seasons there, and to feel justified in complaining when […]

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Mavis Gallant’s “Bernadette”

Alice Munro’s hired girls like to read too.In “Sunday Afternoon”, Alva asks Mr. Gannett if she could borrow “King Lear” and, also, Stendhal’s The Red and the Black.

Mr. Gannett agrees to share his books with Alva, just as Mr. Montjoy gifts the young Alice with his copy of Seven Gothic Tales at the end of the summer in “Hired Girl”, […]

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Mazo de la Roche’s Mary Wakefield (1949)

There were “few openings for women in the nineties” and, so, Mary Wakefield is forced to consider work as a governess in the 1890s.

She is fortunate, in fact, that Ernest Whiteoak is seeking a governess for his brother’s young son (nine years old) and daughter (seven years old).

Their mother died seven years ago and […]

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Mavis Gallant’s “Acceptance of Their Ways”

As is fitting for the opening story of Mavis Gallant’s second published collection, My Heart is Broken, many themes feel familiar.

The question of what constitutes a “good” woman, particularly when she is not a wife.

The dilemma of trying to live an interesting life while maintaining a sheen of “goodness”.

What bonds can be […]

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Margaret Millar’s How Like an Angel (1962)

Exploring in the back country of Santa Barbara County California, Margaret Millar discovered a group of abandoned buildings on top of a ridge of the Santa Ynez mountains. The view was incredible: the Pacific Ocean, the Santa Ynez valley, Lake Cachuma, and the San Rafael mountains, along with a main lodge, out-buildings, and a tower.

[…]

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Life on Mars, Again and Again

When you’ve looked up a book title, have you ever been tempted by the other books you’ve found with the same title as the book for which you were searching?

In adding Lori McNulty’s debut short story collection to my online TBR list, I discovered several other books with the same title, including Tracy K. Smith’s […]

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Mazo de la Roche’s Morning at Jalna (1960)

Although the last of the Jalna books written, Morning at Jalna is only the second in the sequence.

It is set while the civil war is raging in the southern United States, and readers are immediately informed that the Whiteoaks are sympathetic to the southerners.

In school, during the 1970s and the 1980s, I was […]

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Mavis Gallant’s “A Day Like Any Other” (1953)

There is less than a year between Jane and Ernestine Kennedy, young sisters who “resemble little Renoirs”. They live with their mother, Mrs. Kennedy, who is so preoccupied with caring for their father, that the girls have a minder, Frau Stengel (their sixth).

Jane Wyman in “Das Herz Einer Mutti” 1951Click for source details

Frau […]

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Mavis Gallant’s “Señor Pinedo”

Set in a Madrid pension, after the Spanish Civil War, “Señor Pinedo” has an ensemble cast. But, like many of the other tales in this colleciton, the story is told in the first person, from the perspective of a young woman who shares a wall with the Pinedo family.

Imagining the pension (Madrid)

They live […]

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