Monday, October 20, 2014 |
Set in Europe in the aftermath of the Second World War, the stories in this collection are incisive, nuanced portraits of émigrés and displaced people whose lives are in a state of turmoil and flux. Mavis Gallant's elegant, witty prose brings these characters and their complex situations fully to life.
From the Fifteenth District was a contender in Canada Reads 2008, when it was championed by Lisa Moore.
"In the south of France, in the business room of a hotel quite near to the house where Katherine Mansfield (whom no one in this hotel had ever heard of) was writing 'The Daughters of the Late Colonel,' Netta Asher's father announced that there would never be a man-made catastrophe in Europe again. The dead of that recent war, the doomed nonsense of the Russian Bolsheviks had finally knocked sense into European heads. What people wanted now was to get on with life. When he said 'life,' he meant its commercial business.
Who would have contradicted Mr. Asher? Certainly not Netta. She did not understand what he meant quite so well as his French solicitor seemed to, but she did listen with interest and respect, and then watched him signing papers that, she knew, concerned her for life."
From From the Fifteenth District by Mavis Gallant ©1973. McClelland & Stewart edition published in 2001.