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On the release of her first novel in 1948, Elizabeth Spencer was immediately championed by Robert Penn Warren and Eudora Welty, setting off a remarkable career as one of the great literary voices of the American South. Her career, now spanning seven decades, continues here with nine new stories. In Starting Over, Spencer returns to the deep emotional fault lines and unseen On the release of her first novel in 1948, Elizabeth Spencer was immediately championed by Robert Penn Warren and Eudora Welty, setting off a remarkable career as one of the great literary voices of the American South. Her career, now spanning seven decades, continues here with nine new stories. In Starting Over, Spencer returns to the deep emotional fault lines and unseen fractures that lie just beneath the veneer of happy family life. In “Sightings,” a troubled daughter suddenly returns to the home of the father she accidently blinded during her parents’ bitter separation; in “Blackie,” the reappearance of a son from a divorcee’s first marriage triggers a harrowing confrontation with her new family; while in “The Wedding Visitor,” a cousin travels home only to find himself entwined in the events leading up to a family wedding. In these nine stories, Spencer excels at revealing the flawed fabric of human relations.


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On the release of her first novel in 1948, Elizabeth Spencer was immediately championed by Robert Penn Warren and Eudora Welty, setting off a remarkable career as one of the great literary voices of the American South. Her career, now spanning seven decades, continues here with nine new stories. In Starting Over, Spencer returns to the deep emotional fault lines and unseen On the release of her first novel in 1948, Elizabeth Spencer was immediately championed by Robert Penn Warren and Eudora Welty, setting off a remarkable career as one of the great literary voices of the American South. Her career, now spanning seven decades, continues here with nine new stories. In Starting Over, Spencer returns to the deep emotional fault lines and unseen fractures that lie just beneath the veneer of happy family life. In “Sightings,” a troubled daughter suddenly returns to the home of the father she accidently blinded during her parents’ bitter separation; in “Blackie,” the reappearance of a son from a divorcee’s first marriage triggers a harrowing confrontation with her new family; while in “The Wedding Visitor,” a cousin travels home only to find himself entwined in the events leading up to a family wedding. In these nine stories, Spencer excels at revealing the flawed fabric of human relations.

30 review for Starting Over

  1. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca

    I’ll sheepishly admit that I’d never heard of Elizabeth Spencer until I came across these stories. And yet she has been writing since 1948, in which time she has published nine novels, eight story collections and a memoir. She seems to be part of a Southern cadre including Allan Gurganus (to whom she dedicates the book) and Eudora Welty, who gives a puff in the prefatory material. Most of these stories are set in North Carolina or Mississippi; there is usually a central couple, either divorced an I’ll sheepishly admit that I’d never heard of Elizabeth Spencer until I came across these stories. And yet she has been writing since 1948, in which time she has published nine novels, eight story collections and a memoir. She seems to be part of a Southern cadre including Allan Gurganus (to whom she dedicates the book) and Eudora Welty, who gives a puff in the prefatory material. Most of these stories are set in North Carolina or Mississippi; there is usually a central couple, either divorced and hoping for a second chance, or just muddling through together in midlife. As Alice Munro has observed, “What [Spencer’s] stories do wonderfully...is explore the ties that bind—in families, friendships, communities, marriages—how mysterious, twisted, chafing, inescapable, and life-supporting such ties are” (words that might as easily be applied to Munro’s own short fiction!). Of the nine stories, two are on a Christmas theme; “The Everlasting Light” is very nice, but “Christmas Longings” is fairly twee. In “Rising Tide,” a newly divorced business composition teacher forms a friendship with her Indian student, who seems to be ethically compromised, while her daughter becomes involved with a Mexican man. Racism is not just an undercurrent in this one and in a disturbing story of resentment and violence within a blended family, “Blackie”– the title of which doesn’t just refer to the pet dog. “On the Hill” is also unsettling, with its hint that a child may have been lost to a religious cult. For me the stand-out story was the first one, “Return Trip.” Patricia’s Mississippi cousin, Edward, pays her and her husband Boyd a visit out of the blue. “Boyd had learned that just as there were complicated ways Mississippians took of proving kin, so there were also similar ways of disproving it.” Indeed, Edward and Patricia are keen to downplay their past connection, but readers learn that they may have been romantically involved at a pivotal point. I especially loved the inclusion of a visit to Thomas Wolfe’s house, which inevitably brings to mind the failed nostalgia of You Can’t Go Home Again. In general, though, I’m afraid these stories feel somewhat thin, like the leftovers remaining after the best stories had been published elsewhere. The collection is like Lorrie Moore’s Bark in that respect (and Spencer’s “The Wedding Visitor” reminded me very much of the last story in Moore’s collection, “Thank You for Having Me”). I like this book enough to seek out some works from Spencer’s heyday – providing I can find them still in print.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Lydia Presley

    It says something when an author can boast that they have been writing for seven decades. Seven, folks. Elizabeth Spencer creates a nearly perfect set of short stories with Starting Over: Stories. Some of these stories broke my heart, moved me to tears, and made me put the book down out of sheer self-preservation. I'm a fairly recent convert to the power of the short story (by recent, I mean within the last few years) so for a collection to move me as deeply as some of these stories moved me...w It says something when an author can boast that they have been writing for seven decades. Seven, folks. Elizabeth Spencer creates a nearly perfect set of short stories with Starting Over: Stories. Some of these stories broke my heart, moved me to tears, and made me put the book down out of sheer self-preservation. I'm a fairly recent convert to the power of the short story (by recent, I mean within the last few years) so for a collection to move me as deeply as some of these stories moved me...well, let me just say that it doesn't happen as often as I like. Had I read a collection like this during my years of "not-a-fan of short stories," I think I may have had a come to Jesus moment a little sooner. Read the rest of this review at The Lost Entwife on Dec. 20, 2013.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Corinne

    I've long been a admirer of Elizabeth Spencer's short stories. This new collection confrims my view that she is one of the finest short story writers today. The only puzzle is why isn't she better known? I've long been a admirer of Elizabeth Spencer's short stories. This new collection confrims my view that she is one of the finest short story writers today. The only puzzle is why isn't she better known?

  4. 4 out of 5

    Adam

    With the exception of "Christmas Longings," the shortest story featured in Mary Spencer's newest collection--her first in over a decade--all of Spencer's fiction features a visit of some sort. Most of these are unplanned, though this is not where the tension is derived. Instead, the conflicts--quiet, subtle, like disturbances beneath the calm surface of a lake--arrive after the fact, as those on the outskirts of the events must come to terms with the aftermath. There is the mother whose son from With the exception of "Christmas Longings," the shortest story featured in Mary Spencer's newest collection--her first in over a decade--all of Spencer's fiction features a visit of some sort. Most of these are unplanned, though this is not where the tension is derived. Instead, the conflicts--quiet, subtle, like disturbances beneath the calm surface of a lake--arrive after the fact, as those on the outskirts of the events must come to terms with the aftermath. There is the mother whose son from another marriage arrives and is promptly victimized by his half-brothers and grandfather, all of whom threaten him and destroy his possessions; kept far from the aftermath--in one scene, she is literally shut out of the room where her new husband interrogates his children--she must decide whether to stay or go. There is the wife whose dinner-party neighbors become virtual shut-ins, their poor son left to wander up and down the street, until they vanish for reasons left unexplained; the end of the story finds her peering into the neighbors' old window, knowing she'll find nothing but looking anyway, her expectations unclear. And there is the father who, curious about his daughter's newfound interest in religion, follows her to singing practice at church and sits, noticed but unidentified, in the pews, where he can weep to himself…about what, we're never told, but the pains on him--as a visitor to this place, to the beauty of this music--are clear. In each case, Spencer's characters seem to exist on their own--lonely, distracted, their minds racing to keep up with events unfolding around them, unfolding without them--to the point where some of them become near pitiable. The wife who worries over her withdrawn neighbors is told by her husband to leave them be; even after she spies on the neighbor's fire-and-brimstone church, where she witnesses what might be the abuse of children, her husband admonishes her, and she is left admitting that maybe she imagined the whole thing. The mother of the bullied son decides to stay with her husband and their children, even after it becomes clear what they have done to their step-brother, because she thinks of her husband as honest and good--a moral compromise struck less for love, it seems, than for the safety of what she knows in the face of the great unknown beyond her front door. And the father, weeping in the back of the church, is unable to talk with his daughter about why her new interests move him so, even as his wife dismisses everything religious as unworthy of their attention. There are homes in Spencer's stories--large, warm places where people eat and make love and grow--but they are places where these characters live like ghosts, unable to find a well-lit corner to claim as their own. They do not understand their roles, the decisions they have made, what they have become; they move up and down their streets like visitors themselves rather than as men and women who belong, who are stakeholders in the community, who know the streets and fence-lines like the veins in their own hands. Each searches for some purpose other than the ones to which they have been assigned by fate: a housewife looks toward the end of her driveway and wonders; another peers into the window of an empty house and imagines; a third listens to his daughter's choir sings and becomes a man unlike himself, ready to change but unsure how. These people--Spencer's people--are us in every sense of creation, and in reading about them we read about ourselves: visitors to our own lonely souls. All of which is what Elizabeth Spencer has been doing for the last 60-odd years: dusting off the shelves of our houses and showing us where we set ourselves before walking away and forgetting. Southern by birth, Spencer comes from a literary tradition that is all but gone today. Her prose is sparse and waves off any need for unnecessary details, and in her hands the English language is moldable like a tongue made of clay. Words and phrases grow from the page like strange backwoods flowers, so effervescent and yet so ungainly, and the characters who haunt her stories exist similarly. We stumble upon them as though Spencer's passages were not pages in a book but a series of 200 windows, each of them set before us without comment. We are not voyeurs, but bystanders: visitors to an art gallery, spectators at a clubhouse game, the neighbors down the block. There is no room for us to comment here, only to observe, and we do so diligently, eyes open and ears waiting the next unsettling rumble from beneath the waters. At age 92, with almost 70 years of published work behind her, Spencer is one of the last great Southern writers--not just a writer from the South, mind you, but a writer whose work embodies the very attitudes, personalities, and paradoxes of what it's like to live in a place where the time of people moves much slower than the time kept by the world around them. Think Eudora Welty, who died the same year Spencer released her last collection, and at the same age Spencer is now. Think William Gay, another writer stuck in time who suddenly a few years ago, his wonderful but thin output a series of windows all their own--shattered, dirty, mask-like. Think William Faulkner, the granddaddy of them all, dead for decades but swimming in every ink-stain of Southern prose like one of his own characters shuttled down the river of literature. The men and women of Spencer's world are stuck--of their own making, by forces beyond their control--and into this limbo stumble those who live beyond these very pleasures and confinements. Sometimes they are better for their separate lives, sometimes they are worse, but it is not for anyone to know or judge. For in judging them we would be judging ourselves, and the 200 windows into which we peer would suddenly become mirrors staring back at us. This review was originally published at There Will Be Books Galore.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Paul Secor

    Very good stories about families and all of the memories, secrets, caring, and feuds that come with families. Elizabeth Spencer has her own voice (or voices), as befits someone who has been published for over sixty five years. At times, I felt that I was hearing the voice of an old friend telling me a story I'd never heard before. I'd never read any of Ms. Spencer's books before I read Starting Over, but I'm sure I'll be reading more of her works in the future. Very good stories about families and all of the memories, secrets, caring, and feuds that come with families. Elizabeth Spencer has her own voice (or voices), as befits someone who has been published for over sixty five years. At times, I felt that I was hearing the voice of an old friend telling me a story I'd never heard before. I'd never read any of Ms. Spencer's books before I read Starting Over, but I'm sure I'll be reading more of her works in the future.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Nick

    At only 200 pages, I had to slowly savor this incredible collection of short stories from one of the finest writers of the past 70 years! Written when in her 90's, 'Starting Over' is an amazing collection of stories that showcases the multi-faceted layers of families (nearly all Southern) and simultaneously leaves the reader both satisfied & longing for more. If you enjoy Southern Gothic novels and short stories--- you must read Elizabeth Spencer without delay. At only 200 pages, I had to slowly savor this incredible collection of short stories from one of the finest writers of the past 70 years! Written when in her 90's, 'Starting Over' is an amazing collection of stories that showcases the multi-faceted layers of families (nearly all Southern) and simultaneously leaves the reader both satisfied & longing for more. If you enjoy Southern Gothic novels and short stories--- you must read Elizabeth Spencer without delay.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Kathy Piselli

    Deceptively easy to read and satisfying. I like that they don't clobber you over the head with man's inhumanity to man, but don't shy away from it either. Some of my favorite phrases: He had felt a burst of joy, like a bubble. And: They vanished like a road. Deceptively easy to read and satisfying. I like that they don't clobber you over the head with man's inhumanity to man, but don't shy away from it either. Some of my favorite phrases: He had felt a burst of joy, like a bubble. And: They vanished like a road.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Deb Carlson

    It was a good collections of stories, very different.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Sarah-Katharine Owen

    Ugh. It was agony trying to get through these dry, boring stories. I gave up half way through. Not a single one seemed to have an ending.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Bibliomama

    Short stories all on the theme of coming or going. 3 1/2 stars, mixed.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Marshall Johnson

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Interesting but true commentary on Southern life.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Andy Miller

    One story in this collection, "Blackie" disturbed me so much it caused me to not only questions the author's values in that story, it caused me to re-examine all her stories and question the values in those I had already read and liked "Blackie" features a woman who has remarried after divorcing her first husband with whom she had a child. The story gives reason as to her leaving her husband though not necessarily her son. Her new family brought her three stepsons and an ailing father in law alon One story in this collection, "Blackie" disturbed me so much it caused me to not only questions the author's values in that story, it caused me to re-examine all her stories and question the values in those I had already read and liked "Blackie" features a woman who has remarried after divorcing her first husband with whom she had a child. The story gives reason as to her leaving her husband though not necessarily her son. Her new family brought her three stepsons and an ailing father in law along with her emotionally dependent but usually physically absent husband. The stepsons are self absorbed and untrustworthy. When circumstances bring her son to the family the stepsons actually articulate the words that she belongs to them now and that they need her. Things go downhill, eventually her son leaves after he is beaten up and his musical instruments are trashed. But his mom, the central character, lets her son leave and tells her new family, almost proudly, that she is staying with them. I would like someone to tell me I read the story wrong, that her son had inherited his dad's unreliablity and that her stepsons were misunderstood in a false narrative, BUT...in the meantime I'll live with my conclusion that this story was SICK

  13. 4 out of 5

    Katherine

    *3.5 stars. "…had looked forlorn in the shelter when Mason chose him out of others. But choosing didn't change him; he still looked forlorn" (60). "…and saw the whole flawed fabric of human relations form, the present now becoming like the past, the future scrolling out ahead looking just as always torn, stained, blemished" (68). "Marsha was a good-natured woman, tolerant of human mistakes" (71). "There was a thin line of small quarrels between them, something apt to go o indefinitely; it often vani *3.5 stars. "…had looked forlorn in the shelter when Mason chose him out of others. But choosing didn't change him; he still looked forlorn" (60). "…and saw the whole flawed fabric of human relations form, the present now becoming like the past, the future scrolling out ahead looking just as always torn, stained, blemished" (68). "Marsha was a good-natured woman, tolerant of human mistakes" (71). "There was a thin line of small quarrels between them, something apt to go o indefinitely; it often vanished altogether, only to return" (82). "She thought of these trips as green little atolls sticking up in the sea which was a liquid but was not water" (150). "Inside all these tack-ons, the original house nested peacefully" (179). "…he knew what he ought to say but didn't. You were supposed to compliment everybody" (185). "There was a rustle of gravel from the drive, a car arriving" (187). "…two ample sofas cornered near a back window" (191). " 'Bless your heart.' He liked having his heart blessed" (194). "The call was a long one. He barely made it to the church before Mendelssohn" (200).

  14. 4 out of 5

    Patrick Faller

    A friend of mine continually mentions the maxim handed down to him from one of his writing instructors: let life in. This means, essentially, that stories can, and should, be invested with the kinds of experience that clutters a workaday life: grocery lists, laundry, the sense of elsewhereness that comes over those of us tasked with mundane chores (cleaning out the garage; running into town to pick up more beer). These details seem to charge the characters in Spencer's collection with occasions A friend of mine continually mentions the maxim handed down to him from one of his writing instructors: let life in. This means, essentially, that stories can, and should, be invested with the kinds of experience that clutters a workaday life: grocery lists, laundry, the sense of elsewhereness that comes over those of us tasked with mundane chores (cleaning out the garage; running into town to pick up more beer). These details seem to charge the characters in Spencer's collection with occasions to test what they know and think they know about themselves, etc. Parties where the hosts seem gregarious but appear to have another, darker layer to their lives; relatives who "drop in" on a family vacation; a daughter who brings by a boyfriend to have dinner on a weekday, all serve as counterpoint to some deeper fear that begins to work itself out when characters do things that bring the submerged to the surface. A terse collection that reminds one of the kind of stories that have been pruned to the core of action, dialogue, etc. This is not always a strength; occasionally the described events feel ill-chosen, featured in place of some other, potentially more revealing exchange.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Kathleen

    This collection of nine short stories, each about an aspect of beginning again, has introduced me to a talented writer whose first novel was written in 1948. Varied in so many ways - time, place, characters, plot lines - these beautifully crafted stories left me gulping at times, in awe of the courage and compromise, that starting over demands. Echoes of the American South can be heard in each story, but Spencer uncovers over and over again the fragile nature of families despite their outward appe This collection of nine short stories, each about an aspect of beginning again, has introduced me to a talented writer whose first novel was written in 1948. Varied in so many ways - time, place, characters, plot lines - these beautifully crafted stories left me gulping at times, in awe of the courage and compromise, that starting over demands. Echoes of the American South can be heard in each story, but Spencer uncovers over and over again the fragile nature of families despite their outward appearance. "There was a thin line of small quarrels between them, something apt to go on indefinitely; it often vanished altogether, only to return." The outward appearance, familiar tensions and concerns, are what readers will recognize, but where each story takes you is a surprise. A laser focus, described with a gentle hand, Elizabeth Spencer's writing is a gift to me this winter.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Sylvie

    I'm an Elizabeth Spencer fan. I can't believe that I'd never heard of this wonderful writer until a few years ago, when my wonderful friend loaned me "Downhome: An Anthology of Southern Women Writers" and there she was: Elizabeth Spencer. After reading many of Spencer's short stories, I couldn't imagine how I had missed this wonderful writer! Since then, I've been reading whatever Spencer stores/novels I can find. And it's not easy. Most of the books I read come from my local library, and they ha I'm an Elizabeth Spencer fan. I can't believe that I'd never heard of this wonderful writer until a few years ago, when my wonderful friend loaned me "Downhome: An Anthology of Southern Women Writers" and there she was: Elizabeth Spencer. After reading many of Spencer's short stories, I couldn't imagine how I had missed this wonderful writer! Since then, I've been reading whatever Spencer stores/novels I can find. And it's not easy. Most of the books I read come from my local library, and they have very few works by Spencer. Why? Well, thank goodness for interlibrary loans! "Starting Over" is, I believe, Spencer's most recent work. I enjoyed most of the stories, especially "Blackie" and "The Wedding Visitor." I, however, prefer Spencer's earlier works. My favorite Elizabeth Spencer story is "First Dark."

  17. 5 out of 5

    Betty

    I recommend reading one story a day, just to savor them. Each story has a narrative arc that ends with a new beginning -- the Starting Over of the title. I admired the way that Spencer achieved this in a short story format. Each story gave me the sense of completion that I get from a fine novel, so I got that satisfaction times nine. Not that I ignored the deep sadness that runs beneath and through each story. A collection to be admired. Though the author is a woman in her nineties, none of thes I recommend reading one story a day, just to savor them. Each story has a narrative arc that ends with a new beginning -- the Starting Over of the title. I admired the way that Spencer achieved this in a short story format. Each story gave me the sense of completion that I get from a fine novel, so I got that satisfaction times nine. Not that I ignored the deep sadness that runs beneath and through each story. A collection to be admired. Though the author is a woman in her nineties, none of these stories reflect any focus on aging. With a voice like hers, I'd listen closely to what she had to say about it. Perhaps in another book?

  18. 4 out of 5

    J. Keck

    Some of her short stories made more impact on me than others. I'm glad I read the entire book. I must confess that the first two stories did not impress me the way the others did. I was troubled by the dialogue of multiple speakers in one paragraph; it was a bit confusing. However, the stories that followed were jewels. They were not only beautifully and a deftly crafted, but sensitive and poignant. I felt the pangs of tenderness, regret, and empathy for the characters. Heartfelt is the word tha Some of her short stories made more impact on me than others. I'm glad I read the entire book. I must confess that the first two stories did not impress me the way the others did. I was troubled by the dialogue of multiple speakers in one paragraph; it was a bit confusing. However, the stories that followed were jewels. They were not only beautifully and a deftly crafted, but sensitive and poignant. I felt the pangs of tenderness, regret, and empathy for the characters. Heartfelt is the word that comes to mind after having read them.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Keith Madsen

    Elizabeth Spencer is one of the top short story writers of our time, and it shows in her eloquent use of language and in her careful depiction of characters. However, I will have to admit that I had a hard time getting into some of these stories. Perhaps it is a male-female thing. Her stories are heavily about relationships, but in some of them I had a longing for some kind of dramatic tension to be pictured and then (at least partially) resolved.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Sheri

    It is always a surprise to me, who reads day and night to find a new author that has been around this long, written this many wonderful books and I have never read her. Until now. The stories are sweet, sad, ordinary, gripping and told well in their simplicity and brevity. I read the book in a few sittings, although I could have finished it in one... I wanted to savor some of the beauty and emotion evoked in the story before moving on to the next one.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Antoinette

    Winner of the PEN/Malamud Prize, five O. Henry Awards and the 2013 Rea Award for Short Fiction, Elizabeth Spencer, now in her 90s, has published a collection of short stories, all dating from 2002. In this collection Spencer returns to the themes of the complexity of relationships within families. What makes a happy family? Is there a happy family? Is there happiness to be found within the family structure? Worth reading.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Peg

    Elizabeth Spencer is one of my favorite authors. Her books and stories are primarily set in the south. Her national recognition is based on her "Light in the Piazza." Have had the pleasure of enjoying her company when she was a guest at a book group. This collection of short stories depicts family life including the cracks and imperfections underneath. Elizabeth Spencer is one of my favorite authors. Her books and stories are primarily set in the south. Her national recognition is based on her "Light in the Piazza." Have had the pleasure of enjoying her company when she was a guest at a book group. This collection of short stories depicts family life including the cracks and imperfections underneath.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Mildred Merz

    Each story involves family life. It is not always perfect, but it is still an important factor in a person's life--a safe harbor. In the final story, "The Wedding Visitor," I loved where Rob is remembering his aunt's frequently "blessing his heart." He then reflects that he likes to have his heart blessed! Each story involves family life. It is not always perfect, but it is still an important factor in a person's life--a safe harbor. In the final story, "The Wedding Visitor," I loved where Rob is remembering his aunt's frequently "blessing his heart." He then reflects that he likes to have his heart blessed!

  24. 5 out of 5

    Alicia

    I really wanted to like this book more. This may not be fair, but it seemed like Spencer was in the family of an Alice Munro or Elizabeth Oliver in terms of quiet lives with little plot and lots of character, though she couldn't pull it off in the same way. I really wanted to like this book more. This may not be fair, but it seemed like Spencer was in the family of an Alice Munro or Elizabeth Oliver in terms of quiet lives with little plot and lots of character, though she couldn't pull it off in the same way.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Bill Fletcher

    Great to have a new collection from Elizabeth Spencer. I'm not sure I found it as wonderful as the reviews did, but the stories are good (a few, 'Blackie' and 'The Wedding Visitor', in particular, I thought were very, very good) and her writing is as gorgeous as ever. Great to have a new collection from Elizabeth Spencer. I'm not sure I found it as wonderful as the reviews did, but the stories are good (a few, 'Blackie' and 'The Wedding Visitor', in particular, I thought were very, very good) and her writing is as gorgeous as ever.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Susan

    Although she is a well respected writer, and the book of stories was recommended by other writers I respect, I just couldn't relate to the stories in this book. They all seemed to be happening on the surface. Although she is a well respected writer, and the book of stories was recommended by other writers I respect, I just couldn't relate to the stories in this book. They all seemed to be happening on the surface.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Cathy

    A wonderful collection of short stories. Such a different experience from reading a full length novel. You have to tease out the characters and use your imagination to fill in the blanks. Each story a small gem:)

  28. 5 out of 5

    Lauren

    I wish I could give this an extra half-star because the stories that were good were SO good. That said, it was only after I put the book down once and picked it up again that it really began to work it's quiet magic. I wish I could give this an extra half-star because the stories that were good were SO good. That said, it was only after I put the book down once and picked it up again that it really began to work it's quiet magic.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Maudy Benz

    Incisive stories of families with wounds whose members attempt to resolve them. The prose is crystalline. No story is tied up neatly as life is never tidy. Ms. Spencer's economy of language is balanced by her generosity of heart Incisive stories of families with wounds whose members attempt to resolve them. The prose is crystalline. No story is tied up neatly as life is never tidy. Ms. Spencer's economy of language is balanced by her generosity of heart

  30. 4 out of 5

    Shirley

    I am not a short story fan. Somehow all of this collection actually could have been a single story about a small town in the deep south. Anyone who has been writing for seventy years is to be admired.

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