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A Day in the Life of a Smiling Woman: Complete Short Stories Hardcover – May 18, 2011


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (May 18, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0547550405
  • ISBN-13: 978-0547550404
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 5.2 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #997,648 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"Smooth, reflective prose... Drabble's fans will savor these bite-sized examples of her humane intelligence."-Kirkus Reviews

About the Author

MARGARET DRABBLE is the author of The Sea Lady, The Seven Sisters, The Peppered Moth, and The Needle's Eye, among other novels. For her contributions to contemporary English literature, she was made a Dame of the British Empire in 2008.


More About the Author

Margaret Drabble is the author of The Sea Lady, The Seven Sisters, The Peppered Moth, and The Needle's Eye, among other novels. She has written biographies of Arnold Bennett and Angus Wilson, and she is the editor of the fifth and sixth editions of The Oxford Companion to English Literature. For her contributions to contemporary English literature, she was made a Dame of the British Empire in 2008.

Customer Reviews

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She carries herself well and usually has a smile on her face along with a look of success.
Bonnie Brody
Between 1964 and 2000 the great British novelist Margaret Drabble published 14 short stories.
Sharon Isch
Her books always have a strong narrator's voice which sometimes intrudes into the narrative.
Jessica Weissman

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Sharon Isch TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on February 6, 2011
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Between 1964 and 2000 the great British novelist Margaret Drabble published 14 short stories. They are collected here for the first time and organized chronologically by date of publication, although it's suggested in the introduction that this is not necessarily the order in which they were written.

American readers will be treated to some interesting glimpses into the kinds of turmoil that's really going on behind some of those stiff upper lip English exteriors: a groom on his honeymoon in Morocco who'd rather starve than deign to ask if those tasty snacks he and his wife crave are included in the high price of drinks at their hotel or cost extra... an insecure teenager on a climbing date who's about to keel over from hunger and exhaustion but would never dream of suggesting they take a break and open the picnic basket...a much admired TV presenter whose "happy" marriage is sheer hell and whose gynecologist has just given her the very worst kind of news, who'll put on her smile and go on with her scheduled speech to her kids' school while blood runs down her legs and into her boots. Other character studies here include tales of people having extra-marital affairs, people considering having extra-marital affairs, people at parties pretending to have a good time, an unfortunate encounter between a mom out shopping for her beloved son's birthday present and a pair of do-gooders, a widow who leaves town immediately after the funeral so nobody will see how thrilled she is to be free of her hypercritical husband....

And...ta da! For fans of Jane Austen and "Persuasion" (although neither is ever mentioned and the academic who wrote the introduction to this book doesn't seem to have made the connection): there are two stories involving visits to Kellynch Hall.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Bonnie Brody TOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on May 6, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Margaret Drabble is a well-known English novelist. I have read several of her books and have always enjoyed them. I had no idea that she was also a writer of short stories. A Day in the Life of a Smiling Woman: Complete Short Stories is the first compilation of her stories that has ever been published. They are presented in chronological order beginning in 1964 and ending in 2000. Like her novels, these stories often deal with the plight of women in their times, the socio-cultural aspects of marriage, and the difficulties that women find themselves in while trying to both raise a family and be successful in the business world. The stories are distinctively English and the countryside of England as well as the urban landscapes are vivid throughout. There is a span of thirty-six years between the first short story and the last, giving the themes a relatively large period of time in which to develop.

The first story is entititled `Les Liaisons Dangereuses'. Humphrey had met a man at a pub who invited him to a party and when he came to the door, the host acted like he didn't even know him. "It was the kind of party at which nobody got introduced." The party was comprised of clusters of people who all seemed to know one another and the conversations that Humphrey overheard were artistic and intellectual. Humphrey knew no one and no one tried to make his acquaintance. Humphrey sets his sights on a long-haired red-headed woman who is waxing pontifically to a group gathered around her. He never knew if it was accident or inspiration that caused him to set her hair on fire but this act gained him exalted entrance to the entourage.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Jessica Weissman on February 4, 2011
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Margaret Drabble has been writing novels for 50 years or so. Observant, witty, compelling, well-structured, smart books mainly about people in intense situations experiencing intense emotions. She used the elbow room afforded by the novel very well. A few of her most recent novels were not as compelling as her best work but they were still worth reading. At the sentence level there's nobody better writing in the realist narrative mode. Her books always have a strong narrator's voice which sometimes intrudes into the narrative.

So how does she do when confined to a smaller scope? Pretty well, I'd say. Some of the stories read like intense novel excerpts, with all the backstory and denoument removed. Some are more self-contained, but still intense. Her ferocious wit and judgment are fully present. There's brilliance here, narrative skill, illuminating observation, casual references to English literature, and all the other Drabble pleasures and virtues.

One or two are a bit gimmicky, and not every one is a gem. The volume is slim, as Drabble didn't write all that many short stories over her career - the novel rather than the short story is her true medium.

But if you enjoy Margaret Drabble's mind and writing, this is worth your time.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Sophia VINE VOICE on February 5, 2011
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
For the first time, all of Dame Margaret Drabble's short stories have been collected in one volume, "A Day in the Life of a Smiling Woman." These thirteen stories span fifty years, covering many of the major changes, both in Dame Margaret's life, and in society at large, although the female protagonist, sharply delineated descriptions, and gin and tonics are fairly consistent (although not uniformly) throughout. The stories are mostly excellent - a few times, I was overly aware of a literary device or manipulation - and it is really fascinating to see her style and focus evolve in such a compressed format. She really hits her stride about midway through the volume - I thought the titular story, "Homework" and "The Merry Widow" were extraordinary.

The introduction by Jose Francisco Fernandezo of the University of Almeria was especially useful in putting the stories into context and provided another layer of interest when reading them. This is a must-have for any Drabble lover and would make an excellent gift for anyone who would like an introduction to her work. I wavered between four and five stars - at 210 pages, I felt that the planned price was slightly on the high side, also, as mentioned, a few of the stories were a bit uneven, but it was a highly enjoyable read nonetheless.
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