This collection consists of stories written and published during the past thirty years and is divided into three sections. The first group, “At Home,” includes “Thank You for the Lovely Tea,” which plays on the lack of communication between a schoolgirl and her father’s mistress when they meet one afternoon. “Up North” captures the fears of an English war bride and her sensitive child as they travel by train into the Canadian wilderness. “The Prodigal Parent,” set on Vancouver Island, gives an ironic twist to the father-daughter relationship. Whoever the central character, whatever the situation, wherever the setting, each story captures a moment of life’s inherent pain, made significant by the subtlety of its telling.
In the second section, “Canadians Abroad,” Gallant focuses on Canadians who have left the safety of their homeland for the broader experience promised by Europe. Still burdened to an extent by colonialism, most of them return to Canada, disillusioned and disappointed. “In the Tunnel” tells of a woman who fails to find love, while another woman in “Virus X” discovers the absurdity of her intellectual pretensions. The couple in “The Ice Wagon Going Down the Street” never quite comprehend the illusive quality of their life together, whether it be lived in Canada or Switzerland. The artist in “Bonaventure” flees the setting that should be perfect for his creative efforts.
The “Linnet Muir” stories comprise the third part. These six stories focus on Linnet Muir’s struggle to realize her femaleness in the Canada of the 1940’s and 1950’s. It is a world, she discovers, that has placed every kind of barrier in the...
(The entire section is 692 words.)