The Elizabeth Stories

Isabel Huggan, Author Viking Books $15.95 (184p) ISBN 978-0-670-81303-2
Huggan tells these loosely connected growing-up tales in a spare and graceful prose that matches the body young Elizabeth Kessler wishes for. But the one she has, which figures centrally in these stories of childhood and adolescence, is large and ungainly. It makes shaming and illuminating demands, recorded here with a directness and sympathy most often found in fiction about male comings-of-age. Powered by a drive to get out of her exurban Canadian town and flee the stultifying influence of her parents, Elizabeth gradually grows into herself. Enduring such ordinary but no less excruciating humiliations as playing the boy in a ballet recital and suffering a transforming crush on a teacher she discovers to be less than he seems, Elizabeth observes her own responses and others' with an eye unskewed by sentiment. Through boredom, helplessness and the horrors of everyday relationships among children, she makes her way to the edge of maturity, as aware of the cruelty and falseness in herself as in those around her. These are lovely, compassionate and candid storieswell-shaped and full of heart, like their narrator. (May 12)
Reviewed on: 05/01/1987
Release date: 05/01/1987
Paperback - 192 pages - 978-0-14-010199-7
Hardcover - 184 pages - 978-0-00-223595-2
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