on July 25, 2001
I am a long-time Laurie Colwin fan and I was glad to see that this book of short stories - which I wasn't familiar with - was re-released. It was interesing to find many of the same themes from other Colwin books (extra-marital affairs, a sometimes obsessive focus on domestic comfort) re-appear in these stories and to find some new themes as well. Colwin had a unique gift for writing mainly happy, funny stories about quirky, attractive people with interesting jobs. Many of the stories have a fable-like quality. They could be precious but they're not. Narrators usually lead charmed lives and you could resent them, but instead you root for them.
These stories seem to have been written in the early part of Colwin's career. The final story "Family Happiness" appears to be the first chapter of the novel of the same name. What's interesting about this collection is that it includes a few stories that are a bit darker or more experimental in feeling than much of Colwin's other work. One story is about a famous poet's unwelcome attention to a young serious-minded girl in a college town. (He watches her as she grows up, writes poems about her, and is generally obsessed with the girl.) The narrator of another hilarious story is a young wife keeping a secret from her college professor husband. The secret is that she is a pothead who has been continuously stoned from the moment thay met - an unusual heroine for Colwin, but she pulls it off!
My favorite Colwin book is still "Happy All The Time" but these stories were a pleasure to read. The enjoyment I get from reading her stuff is similar to the enjoyment I get from Jane Austen. If that's the kind of thing you like, I highly recommend "The Lone Pilgrim."
It is a joy to see all of Laurie Colwin's books reissued to delight her previous fans and engage new readers. My hardcover copy of "The Lone Pilgrim" from 1981 has my then-name written on the flyleaf. I devoured the stories, carried the book carefully across the country, and it sits with the following volume "Family Happiness" and her other books, including a British edition of "Passion and Affect" that I tracked down used, pre-Internet, pre-Amazon.com.
Laurie Colwin's works hold up amazingly well, at least in my opinion. It would be easy to despise her well-heeled, comfortable characters if they had been wrought by less skillful hands. She truly is America's own Jane Austen.
on December 23, 2014
A decade or so ago, I taught THE LONE PILGRIM because of the attraction of one story, "A Girl Skating." Officiously enough, I say that if you start there you'll read all the other stories.
Colwin left us far too soon.
on December 10, 2005
I just discovered Lori Colwin and what a delight! I was so sad to hear that she had passed away in 1992. I thoroughly enjoyed "The Lone Pilgrim". Ms. Colwin has a wonderful way with words and creates characters that are so real and recognizable, filled with flaws and foibles that make them charmingly (and sometimes maddeningly) human.
'I've rarely read a modern short story writer who has such an ability to turn a phrase. Her stories seem to be taken straight from life and yet she enhances life in such a way that one can laugh at it while feeling its poignancy. I can't wait to read all of her work.
on October 18, 2012
I came across 'The Lone Pilgrim', Laurie Colwin, by sheer chance when researching the painting on the cover (Love Locked Out by Anna Lee Merritt). The opportunity to 'look inside' revealed a lovely, easy reading set of short stories. Apart from a slight defect where the coating on the front cover had peeled back a little from one corner the book has been a delight. Insightful and interesting people stories to dip into on the train to work or on holiday. I hadn't heard of the author before, perhaps because I live in the UK. She has a very attractive style and I shall investigate the other books she has written.