A wonderful big collection of stories by a rather underestimated writer. Gallant has lived in Europe for much of her life, and these stories have a decidedly 'Continental' style, as well as being set for the most part in Europe (I found the Canadian stories were the ones I enjoyed least on a first read, but intend to give them another try). Gallant is a wonderfully clear-sighted recorder of life among the European bohemians and middle-classes. I particularly enjoyed 'Across the Bridge' (the story of a sweet but naive young Parisian girl trying to find true love), 'The Pegnitz Junction' (a journey across Germany made by a dreamy young student called Christine, her lover and her lover's little son), 'Baum, Gabriel' (about a jobbing German actor living in Paris, whose career reaches his nadir when he has to play a Nazi officer in a war film), 'Irina' (about a writer's widow and her small grandson) and 'Potter' (about a Polish academic visiting Paris and his unlikely love affair with an American student). There are lots of other excellent stories; Gallant writes particularly well about Paris in the second half of the 20th century and about Germany after World War II. They are not stories that you come away with (on the whole) with a warm glow - Gallant's tone is unsentimental and slightly ironic rather than romantic. And yet, she creates some very vivid and often likeable characters, and the stories will almost certainly leave you with a greater interest in the world than before you read them. A tip - read these stories interspersed with other fiction rather than trying the whole book in one go - as Gallant says, her stories are best treated as individual works of fiction, rather than as a collection.