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A Day in the Life of a Smiling Woman:…

A Day in the Life of a Smiling Woman: Complete Short Stories (udgave 2011)

af Margaret Drabble (Forfatter), Jose Francisco Fernandez (Redaktør)

MedlemmerAnmeldelserPopularitetGennemsnitlig vurderingOmtaler
2407112,442 (3.89)12
A single-volume compilation of the author's previously uncollected short works offers insight into her use of irony, female friendships, and personal passions and is complemented by an introduction that places her works in a context of her life and novels.
Titel:A Day in the Life of a Smiling Woman: Complete Short Stories
Forfattere:Margaret Drabble (Forfatter)
Andre forfattere:Jose Francisco Fernandez (Redaktør)
Info:Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (2011), Edition: First Edition, 256 pages
Samlinger:Dit bibliotek

Work Information

A Day in the Life of a Smiling Woman: Complete Short Stories af Margaret Drabble


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My first encounter with Margaret Drabble occurred in a British Women Writer’s class at Rowan University and again in graduate school. We read a few of her novels as well as several by her sister, A.S. Byatt. A rift developed between the two sisters, because of biographical elements in their books. They do not read each other’s novels. Drabble describes the situation as “normal sibling rivalry,” Byatt says the rift has been exaggerated by gossip. She claims the sisters have always liked each other (Wikipedia). Drabble has written 19 novels, and Byatt has authored 11 novels, 5 short story collections, and 7 miscellaneous works of non-fiction. Working through all these books will eat up a lot of my retirement. Drabble has also written a number of short stories. I never knew she wrote short fiction until now.

A Day in the Life of a Smiling Woman claims to include her complete short stories. An introduction to the collection by José Francisco Fernández says, these “are fine examples of well-made stories: neatly constructed, carefully contextualized, focused, unified in tone, elegantly climactic, at times tinged with the seriousness of a moral dilemma” (ix). I loved these stories, and it is one of those exceedingly rare books that provoked me into a second reading beginning the moment I finished the first read. Four of the stories are, writes Fernández, “representative cases of the woman who has to divide her time between her duties at home and the demands of a job […] a husband and children” (xii).

The later stories, “The Merry Widow,” “The Dower House at Kellynch: A Somerset Romance,” The Caves of God,” and “Stepping Westward: A Topographical Tale” all describe woman later in their lives when they are free of a husband, family, and work. As I said, I loved them all, but these four were undoubtedly my favorites—a “best of the best” if you will. I also credit these four stories as my impetus for an immediate rereading.

In the first of this “final four,” stories, “Merry Widow,” Drabble writes, “When Philip died, his friends and colleagues assumed that Elsa would cancel the holiday. Elsa knew this would be their assumption. But she had no intention of canceling. She was determined upon the holiday. During Philip’s unexpectedly sudden last hours, and in the succeeding weeks of funeral and condolence and letters from banks and solicitors, it began to take an increasingly powerful hold upon her imagination. If she were honest with herself, which she tried to be, she had not been looking forward to the holiday while Philip was alive: it would have been yet another dutifully endured, frustrating, saddening attempt at reviving past pleasures, overshadowed by Philip’s increasing ill-health and ill-temper. But without Philip, the prospect brightened” (151). I hope this tidbit will draw you to either--or both--of these exceptionally talented women.

All of the works of these two amazing women writers are interesting and powerful stories. I have read a few of the novels by each woman, and finishing them off will be a large part of my sunset days. If you want to lose yourself in reading of the lives of these women in the late 20th and early 21st century, you could not find a better start than Margaret Drabble's A Day in the Life of a Smiling Woman. 5 Stars

--Chiron, 8/15/17 ( )
  rmckeown | Aug 27, 2017 |
I didn't expect to like this as much as I did.  Self-absorbed British women with too much money and too much time on their hands?  Stories too short to get to know the characters and their backstories?  Well, turns out that summary exaggerates.  And even in the stories where it does hold true, Drabble has a knack for bringing these people and their dilemmas alive for me, and I found myself caring about them, rooting for them.  They are very quiet stories and I don't feel comfortable recommending them, and I'm not particularly interested in reading Drabble's novels, but this was a pretty good read. ( )
  Cheryl_in_CC_NV | Jun 6, 2016 |
Drabble is expert in putting the ineffable into words. Unspoken chemistry between two people, the mental gymnastics going on behind a silent exterior, the deep waters behind a mother's reserved behavior with her beloved child, all are visited here. Each story is a shrewd look at the inside of the human mind, examining loss, affection, anxiety, boredom, and more. Drabble's interior eye exhibits itself in "Les Liaisons Dangereuses," a story titled with characteristic wit which follows a wallflower at a wild party, and his serendipitous--if inflammatory--introduction to the girl he fancies. A standout, for me, was "The Dower House at Kellynch," in which a woman falls fiercely in love--not with the landed Elliot lords surrounding her, but with the crumbling historical ruin she leases from them. There are several references here to the historical setting of Jane Austen's Persuasion, particularly in "Dower House" and "Stepping Westward," where a lichen scientist named "Anne Elliot" shows up on her literary predecessor's old stomping grounds.
  Sarahfine | Nov 28, 2011 |
A collection of short stories exploring human experiences such as marriage, female friendships, the English tourist abroad, love affairs with houses, peace demonstrations, gin and tonics, and cultural television.
1 stem SalemAthenaeum | Jun 17, 2011 |
It is often the case that the author who is a fine novelist cannot master the short story form (and vice versa). But Drabble is an exception. This slim volume collects all fourteen of her stories, written over a period of more than thirty-five years, arranged in order of publication (which isn't the same as the order in which they were written). They are small jewels. Nearly all told from the point of view of a woman of a certain age, they deal in memory, in adjusting to what one is handed in life, in the occasional obsession, be it with a house or with a stranger briefly encountered. As with all such collections, particularly one that covers nearly the entirety of an author's writing life, there is the occasional unevenness. But no Drabble admirer will want to be without this, and those who do not know her will likely be encouraged by these stories to go on to her larger work.
4 stem lilithcat | Feb 27, 2011 |
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Fernandez, José FranciscoRedaktørmedforfatteralle udgaverbekræftet
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A single-volume compilation of the author's previously uncollected short works offers insight into her use of irony, female friendships, and personal passions and is complemented by an introduction that places her works in a context of her life and novels.

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