cover image Good Women: Three Novellas

Good Women: Three Novellas

Jane Stevenson, . . Mariner, $12 (232pp) ISBN 978-0-618-46217-9

When push comes to shove, good women eventually turn nasty in this provocative trio from the British author of Several Deceptions . As Alice finds herself being maneuvered out of her home by her grasping daughter-in-law—who also covets her magnificent garden—the dreamy, artistic grandmother harvests the best plants and cuttings, then puts a grand plan into action. In "Walking with Angels," no one is more surprised than Wenda when two celestial messengers of God show up in her tidy corner of Sheffield and encourage her to become a spiritual guide to the needy masses. This is the best of the trilogy, and Wenda's evolution is comical but genuine. It's all well and good when the angels help her set up a moneymaking Web site, but Wenda is in a quandary when the little cherubs order a dismal fate for her sulky, unsupportive spouse. Less successful is "Light My Fire," where an illicit encounter on a train leads architect David to leave his wife and children and hole up in a Scottish manse-cum-money pit with sexpot Freda, who then reveals how spoiled, low-class and self-centered she really is. Stevenson's voices are distinct, and her eye for detail keen, making these short forays into ordinary lives anything but. (Jan. 6)