French Tales trs Helen Constantine

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The Independent Culture

Short story collections can be an eclectic mix at the best of times, but this is a very different beast: tight, focused and, even more surprisingly given the range of authors (Maupassant and Zola rub shoulders with newer authors Christian Garcin and Anne-Marie Garat), of very even quality throughout. Each story corresponds to a specific region of France.

Thus we have a gem of a short story from Colette, set in Bourgogne, "Where are all the Children?", my favourite of the selection; Maupassant in Auvergne, Merimee in Corse and so on. But this is no French tourist board advertisement – Garcin's story, "The Voiceless", is a tale of dispossession and the loneliness of immigration, while war is remembered in "The Garden of Illusions". While the landscape is the true protagonist of all these stories, dominating the psychology of each story as well as its location, the passing of time is inseparable from it. A beautiful, haunting collection.