Sarah A Smith

Lives on the Edge

The American Lover: And Other Stories

By

Chatto & Windus 232pp £16.99 order from our bookshop
 

As a novelist Rose Tremain is remarkable for the range and vibrancy of her fiction, her ability to move between form, time, gender and genre. Short stories are a perfect showcase for her talents. Her fifth collection, The American Lover, includes an anxious 19th-century fisherman, an imaginative evocation of a role model for Mrs Danvers, and a mother at a loss as her only child sets off for boarding school. It is a book that brims with inventiveness, and reading it one senses something of Tremain’s joy in storytelling.

Tremain’s focus is not especially joyous, however. She writes of people on the periphery: the stationmaster whose home becomes the scene of Tolstoy’s death; the student who never quite becomes her artist lover’s muse; the widow escaping her

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