by A. S. Byatt
In the same delectable format as The Matisse Stories, this collection deals with betrayal and loyalty, quests and longings, loneliness and passion - the mysterious absences at the heart of the fullest lives.
A scholar pursues an elusive biographer, stumbling upon buried fragments of distant lives; a woman walks out of her previous existence and encounters an ice-blond stranger from a secretive world; a schoolgirl draws a blood-filled picture of jael; a swimming pool reveals a beauteous monster in its depths.
The settings range from the heart of Provence in summer to the cold forests of Scandinavia, form chalk-strewn classrooms to herbscented hillsides, from suburban streets to rocky wilds.
- Format: Paperback
- Pages: 240 pages
- Publisher: Vintage Publishing
- Publication Date: 28/10/1999
- Category: Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)
- ISBN: 9780099273769
Showing 1 - 2 of 2 reviews.
Review by Rhinoa
This was my first collection by AS Byatt. It is a collection of six short stories and it is subtitled "Tales of Fire and Ice". They all have fantasy and fairy tale elements to them although "Cold" is the most traditionally fairy tale. It was also my favourite by far in the book. It follows a princess, the youngest child of the king and queen. She is loved by all but isn't very emotional and is often tired and sleepy. One day it snows and she finally comes alive and discovers one of her ancestors was a woman from the cold north lands. Her father wants her to marry (ideally from the North so she can be happy in the cold), but she chooses a man from the desert hotlands. She travels with him but begins to wane until her husband finds a compromise. It was beautifully told and mixed fantastical with cruel. It will definitely stick with me for a long time to come.The other stories that stood out were "A Lamia in the Cvennes" and "Christ in the House of Martha and Mary". These were about a man who paints a lamia who lives in his swimming pool but tries to get out of marrying her once the painting is done. Christ is about two models who stood for Velsquez as Martha and Mary and where their lives have taken them since. Unfortunately I wasn't so keen on the other three in the collection. They were a little dull and dragged. The three I did like more than made up for their lacking and as I said, Cold will stay with me a long time. From doing a search online it looks like this isn't the best introduction to Byatt's writing and I know I will be reading more by her in the future.
Review by timswings
All the stories are rich in physical detail. The people and the places have a very good description. And color has an important function. The message of Byatt that art, curiosity and stories will save us, is very engaging.