Known for her short stories, Berriault (who died in 1999) had a reputation as an extraordinarily sensitive writer, which should be further bolstered by the three groundbreaking novellas collected here, originally published separately in the 1960s. Like Virginia Woolf, Berriault examines the inner lives of ordinary women. In “The Son,” Vivian seeks upward mobility through ultimately unsatisfying marriages, but never finds the happiness and connection she desires. “The Lights of Earth” features Ilona, a writer for whom “each story [is] a refuge into which she escaped and where no one recognized her,” and who loses her lover and her estranged only brother. In the last selection, “Conference of Victims,” Naomi struggles to give her life meaning after the suicide of her politician brother, their mother’s favorite. Berriault’s acute observations and close attention to fleeting moments give her prose uncommon psychological depth, which illuminates her female protagonists as they thoughtfully investigate what it takes to hold a man’s interest, how it feels to be an older woman, and what it requires to be blessed. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 01/13/2014 Release date: 03/01/2014 Genre: Fiction
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