Title: A Day in the Life of a Smiling Woman: The Collected Stories
Author: Margaret Drabble
Publisher: Penguin Classics
Genre: Short Stories
I had not read a single Drabble before reading her collected stories and at the end of it, I sat down and ordered two books written by her. Margaret Drabble’s writing is unique, to the fact that her characters are well-rounded (almost each and every one of them), and she does not shy away from writing about things as they are. Though the collection offers only fourteen stories written by her between 1964 and 2000, they are some of the best I have read this year.
Margaret Drabble’s people are British – with the usual stiff upper lip and the need to seem proper in all places and yet she displays the inner turmoils in a wonderful manner through this collection. For instance, the title story reveals to us the darker side of a marriage accounting to the wife’s success and how she is always smiling to show e the world that all is well with her. The emotions and expressions as etched by Ms. Drabble are both heart-breaking and thoughtful at the same time. I do not want to mention the other stories as I want other readers to experience these stories for themselves as I did.
There is almost everything in the book – an illicit affair, a broken home, intimacy issues, the need to communicate and not being able to do so and most of all the lingering sense of loneliness. Margaret Drabble gives only a certain power to her characters to change their circumstances. Most of them cannot and even if they can, they don’t. There is this sense of holding back.
Character sketches are done in a very chronological manner – considering that she started writing the first story in 1964 and they gradually reflect today’s time as the last story was written in 2000. The reader at the same time can also read and see for himself or herself, the changes that took place in the society in which these stories are set.
I would recommend this book to all readers who want to read more of Drabble or want to get familiar with her style of writing. Read Margaret Drabble for these things: Great stories to tell, Par Excellence Writing and Characters that you will love and empathize with.