Title: Elementals: Stories of Fire and Ice (Signed ...
Publisher: Random House, New York
Publication Date: 1999
Binding: Soft cover
Book Condition: Fine
Dust Jacket Condition: No Jacket
Signed: Signed by Author(s)
Edition: First Edition.
Wraps; pp. . ARC (advance reading copy). Signed by Byatt on the title-page. Book is without flaw. Bookseller Inventory # 7186
Synopsis: A new volume of stories from A. S. Byatt is always a joy, and this one is rich and rare indeed. In the same distinctive format as The Matisse Stories and The Djinn in the Nightingale's Eye, this collection deals with betrayal and loyalty, quests and longings, loneliness and passion--the mysterious absences at the heart of the fullest lives. A woman walks away from her previous existence and encounters an ice-blond stranger from a secretive world; a schoolgirl draws a blood-filled picture of the biblical heroine Jael; a swimming pool reveals a beauteous monster in its depths. The settings of Elementals range from the heat of Provence in summer to the cold forests of Scandinavia, from chalk-strewn classrooms to herb-scented hillsides, from suburban streets to rocky wilds. A marvelous present for all A. S. Byatt fans, this magical collection will also serve as a perfect introduction to one of our finest contemporary writers.
Review: A.S. Byatt's stories simmer with a sensuality and passion that, like topiary trees in a formal garden, are pruned and trained into cultivated shapes while retaining the wild scent of the orchard. In "Crocodile Tears" a woman walks away from a personal tragedy, deserting those she loves to try to reconcile herself to a death for which she feels horribly responsible. Thrown together in Nîmes with another exiled mourner, a Norwegian full of northern folktales, she ricochets between a numbed calm and a reckless urge for self-destruction. Together they begin to assemble some kind of personal solace out of fragments of European history, fiction, and myth, and so come to terms with their guilt. "A Lamia in the Cevennes" is also set in France, where another isolated English exile struggles for self-knowledge amid the shards of history and folktale. "Cold" is itself a kind of latter-day fairy story of ice princesses and sighing suitors. These are stories steeped in light and color, full of glowing landscapes and sensuous delights. Their intricately woven skeins of literary allusion and keenly observed locations bewitch the reader. Yet the figures in Byatt's landscapes seem powerless to derive pleasure or solace from their surroundings, picking their lonely way through the brilliance, carrying with them burdens of painful memories they cannot shake off. --Lisa Jardine, Amazon.co.uk
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