Personally selected by award-winning writer Mary Gordon, these two stories by Willa Cather and Gustave Flaubert render a flawless portrait of characters who unquestioningly offer their compassionate service to those that take them for granted.
Old Mrs. Harris is the staunch matriarch of a busy house (the look of which Cather based on her own childhood home), brimming with her spendthrift son-in-law, her displaced Southern debutante daughter, and a bevy of children whose dreams seem out of reach. In “A Simple Heart,” written at the request of George Sand, Félicité is the faithful servant first to a family fallen on hard times and then to a stuffed parrot she confuses with the Holy Spirit.
Cruel and honest, these two stories explore the ways in which families treat their aging members, the harsh impatience of the young, and the patient compassion of women who make their family’s everyday lives possible.
Willa Cather (1873–1947), the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of more than fifteen books including My Antonia, O Pioneers!, and One of Ours, was one of the most distinguished American writers of the early twentieth century.
Gustave Flaubert (1821–1880) had limited writing success while he lived, but his works, Madame Bovary and A Sentimental Education in particular,are now recognized as masterpieces.
Mary Gordon is the author of six novels and the recipient of many awards, most recently the Story Prize for The Stories of Mary Gordon. She teaches at Barnard College in New York City.