(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

The multilayered plot of “The Love of a Good Woman,” a complex treatment of secrets in a small Canadian town, begins when three teenage boys go swimming in the river and find the body of the town optometrist, Mr. D. M. Willens, in his submerged car. They do not report their discovery to the police immediately but instead wait until after dinner to tell the local constable, who is too deaf to hear them. Later, one of the boys tells his mother, and the police find the body.{OldFileName}New{/OldFileName}

The second section of the story shifts to a period some time after the death of Mr. Willens. The young Mrs. Quinn, who is dying of kidney failure, is cared for by a home nurse named Enid. Mrs. Quinn is portrayed as a cranky young woman, and Enid is portrayed as a middle-aged spinster tormented by erotic dreams.

The third section links the first two sections by recounting the story of Mr. Willens’s death, as Mrs. Quinn tells it to Enid. Mrs. Quinn is having her eyes examined in her home by Mr. Willens, who has a reputation as a lecherous old man. When Mrs. Quinn’s husband, Rupert, comes back to the house and sees his wife with her skirt up her thighs and Mr. Willens’s hands on her leg, he knocks the older man down and beats his head on the floor until he dies. Mrs. Quinn, who comes up with the idea to put Mr. Willens and his car in the river, helps her husband carry out her plan.

In the fourth section, after Mrs. Quinn dies,...

(The entire section is 419 words.)