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Four novellas, all of which are literary, take place between 1970 and 1990, and involve a first person protagonist who is British and an academic. Weirdly niche, right? Stevenson's strength is her complex and literary prose, her almost over-literate protagonists speaking in layers of reference. The first story delighted me with its unlikeable protagonist, a deeply snobby Italian professor of literature who invents whole cloth a fake history of his father's relations with a random woman, just to
This is a collection of four novellas all with the theme of deception or self-deception. Each of the tales pokes a comedic poke at human vanity. In the first story, Simone Strachey employs a plain secretary “Dreary Dora” to catalogue his father’s memorabilia to sell to the Sunday Times. He tries to deceive the paper by reinventing Dora into someone else and the deception backfires. In “Law and Order” twin brothers studying law fall under the spell of their tutor Professor van Aldegonde, and in
I found this collection of four novellas (Stevenson's first) a bit disappointing after enjoying Good Women so much.The first story is too similar to the first story in Good Women -- a snobbish, too-clever man fatally underestimates a woman he considers his social inferior. In the remaining stories, she dips into radically different milieus: aristocratic students in Amsterdam, an Irishwoman who becomes a Buddhist nun in India, a group of snobbish, unpleasant art historians in the Home Counties. T...
Deception, unpacked for the reader a bit at a time, is what these novellas are about. My personal favorite was The Colonel and Judy O'Grady, a beautiful story with a fascinating narrative structure and beautiful writing. The other three are quite engaging, if snarky as hell--a lesson in British idiom and language of the upper class for two, and a view of Dutch political/academic angst in the other. Very entertaining, and a very strong ear for dialect and dialog. Good surprises too.
Several Deceptions is a book containing four stories, each one with a very distinctive voice. I've never read a book like this one before. Though it's well written and everything, I couldn't bring myself to fully enjoy it for the fantastic work of literature that it is. Maybe I'll appreciate Deceptions more in a few years or so.
I especially loved the third story -- Judy O'Grady....
didn;t finish this one either; put it down halfway and never picked it back up.
Just as wonderful as her later book, Good Women. I loved the trickiness of her plots.