Welcome to my stop highlighting this lovely short story collection from Mavis Gallant. Please be sure to check out the other tour stops, and don’t forget to enter the tour-wide giveaway where you could win an eBook copy of the title (one winner, US only)
A collection of short stories set in Europe after the end of World War II, these nine stories all deserve to be savored and read with time after to ponder and absorb the nuances. Mavis Gallant has a deft hand with construction of a short story, a skill that is apparent and highlighted with her clever use of description and emotive prose that brings forth the characters in ways that highlight the deprivations, relief and struggle each endured after the war.
Every word in a short story must count for something, often doing double duty to enlighten and instill a sense of the place or the person for the reader. What emerges is the humanity and the several ways in which we are all not so different, despite circumstances or actions. These are not the famous or lauded of the war years: each story is a ‘normal’ person, insignificant in the grand scheme but star of their own particular stories. These are stories of survival and perseverance against odds, some circumstantial, others self-imposed, and each brings plenty of fuel for imagination and empathy.
These are some masterfully crafted stories, bound to please fans of the genre, and a wonderful example for those new to short stories of how they should be written. Gallant has a tone that is varies between flippant or nonchalant, as if the characters are reacting to their situations, or the narration is simply an uninvolved being retelling what they see without great attachment. Yes, many are somber, and all seem to have a common them of not letting go, but the overall impression leaves you wanting more writing in this manner, even as each story stands alone perfectly well.
Title: From the Fifteenth District
Author: Mavis Gallant
Published on: 16 December, 2014
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
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Even as we grow and change, the consequences of what we have left behind often linger
Mavis Gallant has a unique talent for distilling the sense of otherness one feels abroad into something tangible and utterly understandable. In this collection, she relates the stories of those stranded in relationships, places, and even times in which they don’t belong.
In “The Moslem Wife” a woman is entrusted to look after a hotel in France when her husband is trapped in America after the breakout of World War II. As the situation progresses, the two grow in surprising and profound ways. In another tale, a German prisoner of war is released from France and returns home to a mother whose personality has been as irrevocably changed by the war as his has. In one of the most poignant entries, Gallant follows the life of a Holocaust survivor, illustrating how his experiences tint his outlook on life forty years later.
With its wide breadth of subject matter and the author’s characteristic way with nuance, From the Fifteenth District is classic Mavis Gallant.
A copy of this title was provided via Publisher via NetGalley for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.