Customer Review

26 of 28 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Diverse and Interesting Selection, 27 Oct. 2013
This review is from: The Story: Love, Loss & The Lives of Women: 100 Great Short Stories (Hardcover)
How difficult it must be to choose one hundred pieces of short fiction from the huge number and variety of short stories in print, many of them written by very talented authors. Victoria Hislop, however, has done very well to bring together a diverse selection of stories and authors in this beautifully presented doorstep of a book. Naturally Victoria Hislop has included stories from authors renowned for their short stories: Katherine Mansfield (two stories by this very talented writer); Alice Munro (three stories from the Canadian short story writer and winner of the 2009 Booker International Prize); Flannery O'Connor (one story only, but a very good one ['The Life You Save May Be Your Own'] from this unique American author whose collection of short fiction: Complete Stories won the US Best of the National Book Awards in 2009); Helen Simpson (three stories from this British author including 'Sorry' a perceptive and rather sad story of an elderly man whose new hearing aid picks up much more than he bargained for) and only one story from the marvellous American short story writer, Edith Pearlman, whose latest collection Binocular Vision won the 2012 National Book Critics Circle Award. Also included are three stories by the Scottish author Elspeth Davie, who, although not as well known as some of the aforementioned, was a writer who found her true potential in the form of the short story, where she was able to combine her distinctive blend of the ordinary and the extraordinary to very good effect. It's also good to see that Mavis Gallant has been included, although there is only one piece from this excellent short story writer.

Then there are those authors who are adept at writing both full-length novels and very good pieces of shorter fiction: the wonderful Penelope Lively (three by this author, my favourite being the amusing 'Corruption' where a judge involved in a pornography trial finds himself and his wife in a very embarrassing situation); Penelope Fitzgerald, Booker Prize Winner (three stories by this marvellous writer including 'The Axe' with its growing sense of unease); Hilary Mantel, another Booker Prize Winner (two stories including the intriguing 'Third Floor Rising', where the young female narrator describes how her mother creates a whole new identity for herself ); the amazing Angela Carter, known for her magical realism (two stories including the wonderfully fantastical tale 'The Bloody Chamber' which had me practically on the edge of my seat); sadly only one story by the incomparable Virginia Woolf ('The Society' in which the character Poll, is left a fortune in her father's will, on condition that she reads all the books in London Library); there are three stories by the marvellous Doris Lessing, and two apiece for Margaret Drabble and Margaret Atwood. I could go on, especially as I have mentioned only a few of the authors and stories appearing in this volume, and there are some that I would have liked to have seen included, which are not (Penelope Gilliatt, for one); however this review is already longer than I intended and hopefully you will now want to get your own copy to see if your favourite authors are included. I will just mention that there were a couple of writers of whom I knew very little about, and having read the stories in this volume, I am now keen to read more. So, on the whole, a diverse and interesting selection and one I would be happy to recommend.

4 Stars.
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Susie B
(TOP 100 REVIEWER)   

Top Reviewer Ranking: 54