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A Day in the Life of a Smiting Woman: The Collected Stories.

A Day in the Life of a Smiting Woman: The Collected Stories. Margaret Drabble. Jose Francisco Fernandez, editor. Penguin Classics. [pounds sterling] 20.00. xxiii + 223 pages. ISBN 978-0-141-19604-6. While Dame Margaret Drabble is well known as a novelist, her work as a writer of short stories is less recognised. The editor of this collection has no doubt that the stories "are fine examples of well-made stones: neatly constructed, carefully contextualized, focused, unified in tone, elegantly climactic, and at times tinged with the seriousness of a moral dilemma'. They are also, he argues, 'so very English'. This collection, the first complete collection of her shorter fiction ever published, illustrate the novelist's principal themes: 'her cautious feminism, class conflicts, a fascination for those chosen by grace, [and] metafictional devices'. Indeed, it was through her stories that Mr Fernandez was introduced to Margaret Drabble's writing in the 1980s. The stories act as an introduction to the longer fiction even if their tone is 'more relaxed'. They are, however, also valuable in their own right for 'the pure and simple pleasure' to be found through reading them. The thirteen stories in this collection are organised by date of publication although the fourth, 'A Pyrrhic Victory' was actually the first written. The book does not include fragments from two of her novels that were published in Harper's magazine. (A.C.)

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Publication:Contemporary Review
Article Type:Book review
Date:Dec 1, 2011
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