Miss Grief and Other Stories


Discover the fiction of a writer once deemed America’s “Novelist Laureate”–The Boston Globe

“An American realist of a high order”— Vivian Gornick, The Nation

Woolson’s stories exhibit  “a remarkable minuteness of observation and tenderness of feeling on the part of one who evidently did not glance and pass, but lingered and analyzed”–Henry James, Partial Portraits

“Woolson is at her most brilliant and most complex when she writes about disappointments in love, as she does in ‘A Florentine Experiment’ and ‘In Sloane Street.’ . . . The [former]is bathed in the sort of irony and brittle wisdom that was, a generation later, to be found in the work of Virginia Woolf, Katherine Mansfield, and Elizabeth Bowen. . . .  [The latter exhibits] much subtlety, controlled sympathy, and writerly skill.”–Colm Tóibín, in his Foreword to this volume

Constance Fenimore Woolson (1840-94) was considered one of the best writers of her generation. She depicted with precise realism and great empathy a broad landscape of Americans and their ways, from the people of the rural Midwest and deep South to socially refined ex-pats in Europe. Here, Anne Boyd Rioux, the author of Woolson’s highly praised biography, presents a gathering of Woolson’s most accomplished stories. Woolson’s strong characters, indelible settings, and concerns with passion, creativity, and the demands of society are timeless, whether portraying the keeper of a Union soldiers’ cemetery in the defeated South, a woman writer whose genius goes unrecognized, or ex-pats romancing in Florence.

Colm Tóibín’s illuminating foreword celebrates Woolson’s perceptive mind, aptitude for vivid description, and narrative intensity, establishing her as a writer whose work speaks to us today. (Tóibín is the winner of the IMPAC Dublin Prize and a bestselling novelist. He is the author of The Master, which portrays Henry James’s friendship with Woolson.)

Contents: “St. Clair Flats,” “Solomon,” “Rodman the Keeper,” “Sister St. Luke,” “Miss Grief,” “A Florentine Experiment,” and “In Sloane Street,” the last never before republished.

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[Woolson was] more than the smitten confidante of Henry James. . . . “Solomon” and “St. Clair Flats,” are particularly fine, meticulously delineating the natural beauty of eastern Ohio and the Great Lakes region.

–Brenda Wineapple, The New York Times Book Review

Woolson’s writing was never better than when she was grappling with the ambivalence of men like [Henry] James toward women like herself. . . . Her short stories demonstrate irony, force and feeling that occasionally surpass the stories of Edith Wharton and Howells, rivaling ‘the Master’ himself even as they take aim directly at his privilege and presumptions.

— Amy Gentry, Chicago Tribune

An American realist of a high order. . . . The writing in all of [Woolson’s stories] is remarkably good, but it is the American stories that will send the reader looking for more of Woolson’s work.

— Vivian Gornick, The Nation

[Woolson was] a bold, bright woman who paved the way for writers such as Edith Wharton, E. M. Forster, and Willa Cather, and who arguably might be hailed in the same breath as Henry James and George Eliot.

–Rebecca Foster, Los Angeles Review of Books

[Rioux] has done a substantial service to American literature with . . . Miss Grief and Other Stories, an intriguing collection of seven of Woolson’s sophisticated, modernist short stories. It’s a small but captivating sample of her output. . . .  [A] scholarly resuscitation of a writer whose literary life was caught in a gender bind, aiming ambitiously to give us a new appreciation of her life and work.

–David Holmberg, Bookslut

Like Jane Austen, Woolson’s protagonists knew and understood their place within the rigid social ladder of acceptable convention, and her portraits are vivid, picture perfect snapshots of that time and place.

–Nancy Powell, Shelf Awareness 

A potent . . . [and] exciting volume. . . . These finely-crafted, place-rooted stories are startling in their mythic atmosphere, vital descriptions, and elegiac tributes to lost worlds. They are charged with a quietly ferocious tension between old-fashioned structures and the progressive psychological portraits shaped by Woolson’s compassion and penetrating vision. . . . Woolson belongs in every American literature collection.

–Booklist, starred review

Readers reviews also at  Goodreads and Amazon.