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Mrs. Darcy and the Blue-Eyed Stranger: New and Selected Stories    by Lee Smith order for
Mrs. Darcy and the Blue-Eyed Stranger
by Lee Smith
Order:  USA  Can
Algonquin, 2010 (2010)

Read an Excerpt

* * *   Reviewed by Bob Walch

With the publication of her first anthology four decades ago, Lee Smith has been recognized as one of the country's premier short story writers. Her work, which often captures the defining moments of women's lives, has been lauded by the critics as remarkable, dazzling, and marvelously entertaining.

This writer's writer's latest anthology offers seven previously published stories plus seven new ones, including a novella. In these unforgettable tales you'll meet Bob, an incorrigible mutt who gets kicked out of obedience school; a feisty senior citizen who gets herself thrown out of the Happy Memories Club (her scandalous memoir wasn't very positive or happy); and an eight-year-old boy named Jeffrey who aspires to be a stand-up comic.

Of course, you'll also make the acquaintance of Mrs. Darcy, the collection's title character, who manages to make it through widowhood with the assistance of a very special friend.

'My characters are braver than I am. They tend to live passionately - 'full tilt boggie' as we used to say in the mountains where I grew up,' explains Smith. 'I try to grab those turning points in their lives after which things will never, ever, be the same again.'

Not only does she successfully capture those pivotal, often bittersweet, moments in her characters' lives but the author also manages to make them so gripping that we don't forget them. Smith's comic sense of timing is also so exquisite that she can elicit a wry smile from her reader even as a tear may be trickling down her cheek.

Some individuals may feel that the short story is a lost art, but this collection proves there are still a few writers left who can dazzle their audience using a minimum number of pages.

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