Sunday, 28 April 2013
The House at Belle Fontaine
Published: April 2013
What They Say: The elegantly conceived, intimate stories of The House at Belle Fontaine span the better part of the twentieth century and almost every continent, revealing apprehensions, passions, secrets, and tragedies among lovers, spouses, landlords and tenants, and lifelong friends. In her crisp and penetrating prose, Tuck delicately probes at the lives of her characters as they navigate exotic locales and their own hearts: an artist learns that her deceased husband had an affair with their young houseguest; a retired couple strains to hold together their forty-year-old marriage on a ship bound for Antarctica; and a French family flees to Lima in the 1940s with devastating consequences for their daughter’s young nanny.
All published or soon to be in prestigious literary quarterlies including the PEN/O. Henry Prize Stories 2011, these tales make up a crowning collection by one of our most revered American authors.
What Elaine Says: Something didn't quick click here and I can't put my finger on it. I'm a fan of short story collections and in particular interlocking story collections (last year's Booker nominated "Communion Town" is a perfect example) so this sounded like an interesting read for me.
The writing is deft and the stories are engaging but it doesn't gel together. As a reader I felt no pull to continue yet for some reason, I did. These are subtle, quiet stories without a doubt and Tuck is definitely skilled at this.
Most of the stories revolve around relationships, lack of communication or decisions we face in relationships. This is by no means a bad book. It's just not a great book.
The title story "The House at Bell Fontaine" was possibly the standout for me.
Elaine's Rating: (a slightly harsh) 6/10