Love, Loss, Life
Victoria Hislop’s critically acclaimed “The Story”, a hand-picked collection of her favourite short stories by women writers – prizewinners, famous wits, well-known feminists, national treasures and rising stars – is now available in three, themed collections.
“A collection so good it’s essential.”
“Victoria Hislop’s collection of favourite short stories by other female writers, simply titled The Story has given me more pleasure this year than almost all the rest of my reading put together. Like a box of festive Quality Street, you can dip in and never be sure what you will encounter – it might be Virginia Woolf or Alice Munro, this year’s Nobel Prize for Literature winner. Hislop highlights some of the very best writing of the past 200 years, with topics that range far and wide, from humour to pathos, and politics to sex.”
Mail on Sunday: Books of the Year
Witty, heartbreaking, shocking, satirical: the short story can excite or sadden, entice or repulse. The one thing it can never be is dull. Author Victoria Hislop, a passionate ambassador for the art of the short story, has hand-picked one hundred stories from the very best women writers, bringing them together in a beautifully produced volume, with a personal introduction.
‘Love is, of course, a central preoccupation of literature…’
Love is represented in this volume in all its guises – romantic, maternal, happy and haunting.
CONTRIBUTORS: Katherine Mansfield, Dorothy Parker, Doris Lessing, Margaret Drabble, Angela Carter, Margaret Atwood, Ellen Gilchrist, Alice Walker, Mavis Gallant, Carol Shields, Anne Enright, Elspeth Davie, Alison Lurie, Jennifer Egan, Jeanette Winterson, Claire Boylan, Maggie Gee, Colette Paul, Rachel Seiffert, Yiyun Li, Nadine Gordimer, Miranda July, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Carys Davies, Alison MacLeod, Emma Donoghue, Roshi Fernando, M. J. Hyland and Avril Joy.
‘I think few of the stories in Loss will leave readers cold…’
All the stories in this volume are about loss: lost lives, lost loves, lost innocence, even a lost leopard. The many ways in which loss touches our lives are shown in these varied stories.
CONTRIBUTORS: Katherine Mansfield, Elizabeth Bowen, Dorothy Parker, Shirley Jackson, Flannery O’Connor, Elizabeth Taylor, Jean Rhys, Anna Kavan, Muriel Spark, Ellen Gilchrist, Penelope Fitzgerald, Lorrie Moore, Hilary Mantel, Susan Hill, Colette Paul, Yiyun Li, Helen Simpson, Edna O’Brien, Edith Pearlman, Emma Donoghue, Carrie Tiffany and Lucy Wood.
‘Life provides infinite shades of light and dark…’
All the stories in this volume are about life – happy, sad, mundane and extraordinary – it is captured here in all its rich variety.
CONTRIBUTORS: Willa Cather, Virginia Woolf, Ellen Gilchrist, Dorothy Parker, Doris Lessing, Penelope Fitzgerald, Margaret Atwood, Penelope Lively, Anita Desai, Alice Munro, Elspeth Davie, Penelope Fitzgerald, Alice Walker, A. M. Homes, Anne Enright, Elizabeth Jolley, Jane Gardam, Alison Lurie, Nicola Barker, Jennifer Egan, Muriel Spark, Hilary Mantel, A. S. Byatt, Maggie Gee, Ali Smith, A. L. Kennedy, Polly Samson, Helen Simpson and Stella Duffy.
Praise for “The Story”
Victoria Hislop’s collection of favourite short stories by other female writers, simply titled The Story has given me more pleasure this year than almost all the rest of my reading put together. Like a box of festive Quality Street, you can dip in and never be sure what you will encounter – it might be Virginia Woolf or Alice Munro, this year’s Nobel Prize for Literature winner. Hislop highlights some of the very best writing of the past 200 years, with topics that range far and wide, from humour to pathos, and politics to sex.
Books of the Year: Mariella Frostrup, Mail on Sunday
“This huge, beautiful book is a treasure chest of 100 women’s short stories chosen by Victoria Hislop. There are classics, such as Elizabeth Taylor’s The Blush and Katherine Mansfield’s The Canary. In fact, the index reads like a roll-call of the best female writers of the past century, from Virginia Woolf to Hilary Mantel. Alongside Helen Simpson’s brilliant Up at a Villa, in which heartless teenagers get a vision of their future selves, there’s Muriel Spark’s The First Year of My Life, in which a baby narrates the world events of 1918. Relative newbies such as Lucy Wood (Diving Belles) and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (The Thing Around Your Neck) more than-hold their own beside thundering names such as Alice Munro, Nadine Gordimer and Margaret Drabble. A collection so good, it’s essential.”
In this beautiful and vast collection, Victoria Hislop has pas picked her glittering line-up of authors to include Nobel Laureates, Man Booker, Pulitzer and Costa prize winners.[…] these stories are all written by women and represent some of the finest modern writers in the English language. Otherwise, the scope is wide, rich and often unexpected: a collection of fluffy chick-lit this is not.
Perhaps as an early means to defy preconceptions, Hislop picks Katherine Mansfield’s incomplete “An Unmarried Man’s Story” as her appetiser. Employing a male narrator and a modernist structure, Mansfield’s abstract style is challenging but rewarding. Her fragmented glimpses of past and present create an authentic circularity in the search for reality. Other writers also use the male narrator, but no one as frankly as AM Homes, whose brilliant story opens with a man analysing his manhood; “I am sitting naked on a kitchen chair, staring at it.”
Darkly comic, Dorothy Parker’s monologue “The Telephone Call” has a woman obsess about a call to an uninterested lover: so familiar and excruciating, but it blows Bridget out of the water. Doris Lessing’s aptly named “A Man and Two Women” involves a woman drawn into a relationship between two friends: an unset t lingly voyeuristic study of married life. Most memorable, perhaps, is the mercurial love of a mother, galloping on a horse wielding a sword to save her doomed, impassive daughter in Angela Carter’s subversive “The Bloody Chamber”.
The stories cross borders of distance as well as genre and time. Yiyun Li’s “Love in die Marketplace” explores an uneasy but fierce love between mother and a forsaken daughter, each clinging to the dignity of their life, after being sidelined by their rural Chinese culture. Stylistic experimentation is not overlooked and in “The Thing Around Your Neck”, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie writes about immigrant experience in the second person, a device that lends a fresh potency where it might irritate in a novel. Surreal and symbolic, Anna Kavan’s daring story starts with a visit from “an unusually large, handsome leopard” whose appearance begins a compulsion for the unattainable.
If perfection exists in the form it comes from Alice Munro who proves herself worthy of her recent Nobel Prize. In “Miles City, Montana” and “Gravel”, Munro reveals the devastation caused by “all our natural, and particular, mistakes”.
Freya McClelland, Independent
The Story is a beautifully put together collection of 100 pieces of short fiction from masters of the genre including Angela Carter, AM Homes, Alice Munro, Flannery O’Connor, Ali Smith, Emma Donoghue, Jeanette Winterson and Katherine Mansfield. Divided into the categories Love, Loss and The Lives of Women, the volume showcases the very best writing by women, and the talent and variety on display is staggeringly impressive. From Virginia WooIf’s wonderfully wry, thought-provoking A Society, in which a group of disillusioned women agree to stop having children until they have found out what the world created by men is like, to A.M. Homes’ twisted A Real Doll, in which the young protagonist develops an intense physical relationship with a Barbie, these stories illustrate just how powerful and versatile the form can be. For fans of this sometimes overlooked genre, Christmas has come early.