All the Years of Her Life Essay - Critical Essays

Critical Overview

During the 1930s, Callaghan’s short stories were highly regarded by critics and reviewers. His work was compared to that of Russian writers Leo Tol masters of the short-story form.

Wyndham Lewis favorably reviews the collection Now That April’s Here and Other Stories, in which ‘‘All the Years of Her Life’’ appeared. The following comment from Lewis’s review, which appears in Brandon Conron’s Morley Callaghan, captures the essence of ‘‘All the Years of Her Life’’: ‘‘These are tales very full of human sympathy—a blending of all the events of life into a pattern of tolerance and mercy.’’ Lewis admires the way almost all the stories in Now That April’s Here and Other Stories end gently on a note of reconciliation.

Conron notes that the relationship between parents and children is the theme of many of the stories in Now That April’s Here and Other Stories, and he highlights also the ‘‘double exposure’’ of Mrs. Higgins in ‘‘All the Years of Her Life.’’ By this he means the contrast between the courageous display she puts on in the drugstore and the ‘‘frightened despair and trembling weakness’’ she exhibits in her home afterwards. Callaghan’s stories, Conron observes, follow a certain pattern:

They are all self-contained anecdotes. Their opening is usually a declarative statement that sets the stage for a drama that most frequently...

(The entire section is 282 words.)