Read from July 22 to August 13, 2014.
Paperback, 199 pages.
Originally published on Oct 18, 2014
Mavis Gallant was highly recommended to me from a good friend of mine and I finally took the time to follow-up in this recommendation. Mavis is a talented writer but I don’t think her writing it for everybody.
While born in Canada, Mavis actually spent most of her life in France, which is extremely apparent in this collection of stories. Her writing felt very European as every story in this book was set somewhere in Europe and the tone and the personality of the writing and characters had a very European feel. If I had not know that Mavis was Canadian I would have presumed that she was a European, writing about Europeans, for Europeans, and maybe the latter of the two are true. However, this could also be because the stories seemed to reflect a period of time around the 1950s, a time frame that I found difficult to relate to in her writing, so her characters and their woes felt very foreign to me.
What I was able to appreciate in her work is how well the theme of being ‘in transit’ is used in each individual story. All of the characters in this collaboration of short stories is going through a phase of change, revelation, growth or progress in their personal lives. Mavis details the struggles, and often the options that the characters have in order to proceed through the phase of change that they’re faced with, but every story ends right before the pinnacle of the characters decision. I found this jarring at first but by the time I finished the book I saw how fitting it really was.
While I wasn’t overly enthralled with this collection I haven’t given up on Mavis yet. I think that her writing is good and it reminds me of Hemingway, which I have a love/hate relationship with. So like Hemingway, I’d like to read more of her work to get a better feel for her. Overall I would recommend this book to anyone who has also recently found themselves ‘in transit’.