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Mrs. Darcy and the Blue-Eyed Stranger Paperback – May 31, 2011
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From Publishers Weekly
Smith slips effortlessly into the voices of her funny, smarter-than-they-look characters in her latest collection (after News of the Spirit), containing a handful of new works among some old favorites. In Toastmaster, a family's dinner outing is parsed from the point of view of a brainy 11-year-old who sees through the motivations of his flaky mother and demonstrates his powers of observation when a group of joking, drunken men enter the restaurant. Similarly, Big Girl allows an overweight wife who has sacrificed everything for her awful husband to tell her story while attaining the ultimate emancipation. Each tale is beautifully honed and captures in subtle detail and gentle irony the essential humanity of characters who might initially strike the reader as superficial or unsympathetic. House Tour, for instance, finds a cynical wife and mother contemplating her possible alcoholism when her house is overrun by an endearing group of similarly life-worn but irrepressible women who mistake her house for one on their home tour. Other tales about indomitable wives and mothers will be familiar to Smith's fans and round out this thoroughly enjoyable collection. (Mar.)
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*Starred Review* This wonderful writer is a readers’-advisory librarian’s dream. Short stories, ordinarily a relatively hard sell to library patrons, are a different animal when they are Lee Smith’s short stories. In a very hospitable way of talking, reminiscent of Ellen Gilchrist’s style in her delicious writing, Smith offers stories that deliver an irresistible one-two punch. The first punch is—again, like Gilchrist—the humor that fills every page. She doesn’t poke fun at the ordinary folks who stock her fiction but gets us to see, by their plights and successes, the universal absurdity in their struggles to attain love and significance. The second punch is the meaningfulness of every story. All of us, in different garb, appear at some point in a Smith story. This collection contains 14 pieces, 7 new and 7 that have seen publication in previous collections. Bob, a Dog leads off, and it shows Smith in absolute control of her material; the eponymous character serves as a metaphor for freedom. The title story is entertaining and riveting from its first line, It was cocktail time. The most beautiful story is the very short Toastmaster, an imaginative narrative from the point of view of a bookish little boy. --Brad Hooper --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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I don't think there was a story in the book I didn't love. The characters and sense of place were spot on. No one, no one does the south like Lee Smith. She gets the dialect perfect and doesn't overuse it or use it in a manner that sticks out. I live in the south and I know every person in this book. I just didn't know them so well before I read these stories.
As other reviewers have noted, I feel Smith's writing talent shines even more brightly in short story form. These stories are brilliantly written and feel complete when they're done. Every one was, for me, like a small novella and complete in itself. This is so hard to do and Smith makes it seem effortless.
Overall, a completely captivating and entertaining book of short stories. Reading this made me remember how much I love her other books, so I will be going back and rereading my favorites. I absolutely love this book and this author. Hope she has a new book coming my way soon. I'd give this book ten stars if I could!
they are little slices of life, funny, bittersweet, or melancholy. often all three at once. having lived in the south most of my life i recognize characters, and have seen similar stories play out to a dozen different endings.
this is my first time reading Lee Smith, but it won't be the last.
Mrs. Darcy and the Blue-Eyed Stranger (Shannon Ravenel Books)
Most recent customer reviews
It was a really quick story(?) which is what I was expecting.Read more