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Mrs. Somebody Somebody: Fiction Paperback – June 8, 2010

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Winn's excellent debut collection centers on Lowell, Mass., as it evolves from a booming mid-century mill town to its scrappy contemporary incarnation. What remains constant are the characters, who cycle through the stories as they age, etched memorably by Winn, who nails a diverse swath of American life over some 60 years. In the title story, Stella Lewis navigates through often dicey situations at Hub Hosiery, a factory where she makes a close friend and learns the power of union allegiances. In Blue Tango, lovesick Dr. Charlie Burroughs, a Korean War vet, returns to his wife; in the following story, Glass Box, Winn portrays the marriage from Charlie's wife's perspective. Later, Winn checks in on the next generation of the Burroughs family, mired in frustration and longing. We also get to know factory workers and families affected by wars—from Korea to Iraq. Though Winn's prose sometimes gets away from her, her firm command of narrative and her ability to evoke emotion puts this high on the list of must-read story collections. (Apr)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

The mill town of Lowell, Massachusetts, is at the center of this collection of short stories tracing the economic deterioration of the town and personal distress as characters struggle with the rise and fall of their own personal prospects. The interconnected collection begins in the 1940s with Stella, an attractive young woman looking for a husband, who befriends Lucy, a southern woman surreptitiously looking to organize a union in a textile mill in the dreary Bleachery part of town. Across the Merrimack River in upper-class Belvidere Hill, Charlie Burroughs, son of the mill owner, returns from war in Korea to an unsettled household as his wife, Delia, emotionally drifts away. June and Norm DeLisle, visiting in Belize, are ultimately unable to escape the leaden drudgery of Lowell and their marriage. Over time, through the perspective of men, women, and children, Winn evocatively conveys the sensibilities and mannerisms of people of different classes and ethnicities in a small industrial town. --Vanessa Bush --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Random House Trade Paperbacks; 1St Edition edition (June 8, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0812981456
  • ISBN-13: 978-0812981452
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,472,092 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Quiltinfun on April 1, 2010
Format: Hardcover
I just finished a very impressive collection of short stories by Tracy Winn, "Mrs. Somebody Somebody". Ten short stories set in Lowell, Ma from 1947 to present time. It begins with "Mrs. Somebody, Somebody" at the Hub Hosiery Mill where you begin to meet the cast of characters, in particular Stella and Lucy. Both women have a mission, one to find a husband who will give her all she wants from life and one who is seeking to get a better life for the factory workers by unionizing them. As you read through this story and each one after, you follow certain characters as they "grow". You meet the people they interact with and get to know a town that is shaped around the mills, their owners and employees.

A collection can sometimes be very disjointed; not so here. Tracy Winn , while delivering individual stories, weaves them together with the magic thread of her words. Early decisions create later consequences and complications for most everyone.

There are several stories that stood out for me "Smoke" and the final one "Luck Be a Lady" I am eager to have some of my book buddies read this collection of stories. There is a lot to discuss here. In particular, I need to know who is putting Barbie doll shoes all around Kaylene's car and why. I hope I have your interest now. I know you won't be sorry to read "Mrs. Somebody Somebody."
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Hope on September 12, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Tracy Winn's book of stories are based around characters tied to the mills in Lowell, MA. Each is a different story about the main character within it. But all in some way tie back to the original title story's main character Stella; in a six degrees of separation sort of way. The notion of Stella's desire to be a "Mrs Somebody Somebody" seems innocent and understandable, yet as the rest of the stories unfold, the undertone I picked up on was, that our desires and wants while they seem like a good idea on the surface, may not turn out as you hope they will. Which is the case with an actual Mrs Somebody Somebody in the book.

Through her talent of story-telling, I felt I knew who these people were, especially of those depicted in the first story within the mills. Having had grand-aunts who worked the mills in Ipswich and hearing their stories about these times, Tracy Winn "nailed it" because she made me believe I was in that place & time. And that this could have been another story told to me by them.

Well done, I hope to see more writings from this author.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Gertrude McCue on April 18, 2009
Format: Hardcover
This collection of short stories really seemed like a novel in a way. Each story was complete in itself, but also was tied to another, which I loved. Tracy Winn's portrayal of the emotional damage human beings inflict on each other was devastating. Absolutely beautiful writing.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By "switterbug" Betsey Van Horn TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on April 5, 2010
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I was drawn to this book's subject matter because of my background. I grew up in the 50's and 60's in a mill town in Massachusetts. My father and grandfather owned a factory that manufactured men's clothing, and many of the families of my friends were milliners and mill owners. We were the Jewish side of the tracks, whereas on the "other" side resided the poorer neighborhoods. That is where a lot of the Portuguese immigrants lived, the people that toiled in the mills. Some of them were our gardeners and housekeepers, too. I heard rumors as a young teen that made me uncomfortable--words like sweatshop, exploitation, and elitism. I never approached my father about this, but it was seared into my mind and has haunted me throughout the years.

The stories in this book that captured my imagination about my upbringing were the ones that I connected with, the stories that forced me to confront some historical truths. In "Mrs. Somebody Somebody," two friends face a moment of clarity and friction in the arc of the story. Close friends Stella and Lucy work in a hosiery mill in 1947. Stella's single-minded quest is to find a husband. "I wanted that Mrs title like it was what I was born for--a want that settles into you when you are very young and grows as you grow." She was also a hard-boiled survivor who whitewashed the filthy, exploitative practices carried on by management and the owners. When Lucy, a southerner by birth, attempts to organize politically for the rights of the workers, the strength of her convictions force Stella to undergo a cruel self-reflection.

Many of the characters, like Stella, appear again in these loosely connected stories that build on each other, and eventually reveal a cauterizing portrait of some of Lowell's citizens.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By laytonwoman3rd on March 14, 2010
Format: Hardcover
This short story collection leaped to the top of my "Best Reads" list before I had even finished the title selection. Each offering is an exceptionally well-wrought piece of writing in which the author disappears behind the story, as if her job was merely to draw back a curtain and allow us to watch real people living through significant moments of their ordinary lives. The drama and heartbreak are all so understated that you've choked up over a lost love, an abandoned child or an untimely death before you quite know what hit you.

The setting is Lowell, Massachusetts, with its mile of mills, in one of which we begin in 1947 with the story of Lucy Mattsen, a mill girl who rescues a baby from the Merrimack River. Lucy's friend, Stella Lewis, whose goal is to find her place in the world as "Mrs. Somebody Somebody", suspects that Lucy isn't quite what she seems. Each subsequent story takes us ahead in time, illuminating the intertwined lives of various characters, most of whom harbor and even cherish essential secrets by which they define themselves. We glimpse some of them at more than one stage of their lives, and long to know "what happened in between".

While every story in this collection can easily stand alone, they fit together wonderfully to create a larger work of polished integrity. Unlike many short story compilations, which can overwhelm the reader who does not take breaks in between selections, this group surely was meant to be absorbed in toto. Write more, Tracy Winn. Please write lots more.
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