Any die-hard Janeite will recall her wonderful introductions to the Penguin Classics and Signet Classics editions of Jane Austen’s novels. A renown English novelist, Drabble is also a skilled short story writer. Just released today is A Day in the Life of a Smiling Woman: Complete Short Stories, a new anthology of short fiction written throughout her life and assembled together for the first time in this new collection.
As I skimmed through the list of stories included, one in particular caught my attention: “The Dower House at Kellynch Hall: A Somerset Romance.” Readers of Jane Austen’s novel Persuasion will recognize the residence of Kellynch as the home of Sir Walter Elliot and his daughters Elizabeth and Anne. The story is inspired by Austen’s, though it is contemporary to 1993 when it was written and published in the Jane Austen Society of North America’s journal Persuasions No 15. Here is a description of the book by its publisher:
Margaret Drabble’s novels have illuminated the past fifty years, especially the changing lives of women, like no others. Yet her short fiction has its own unique brilliance. Her penetrating evocations of character and place, her wide-ranging curiosity, her sense of irony—all are on display here, in stories that explore marriage, female friendships, the English tourist abroad, love affairs with houses, peace demonstrations, gin and tonics, cultural TV programs; in stories that are perceptive, sharp, and funny. An introduction by the Spanish academic José Fernández places the stories in the context of her life and her novels. This collection is a wonderful recapitulation of a masterly career.
I enjoy reading short stories as a brief diversion from the many novels and nonfiction books that engulf the majority of my reading time. I can’t wait to chip away at these little treasures and have already downloaded an edition to my Nook.
A Day in the Life of a Smiling Woman: Complete Short Stories, by Margaret Drabble
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (2011) New York
Hardcover (256) pages
© 2007 – 2011 Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose