The twenty–one stories collected here—the very best stories of one of The New Yorker‘s most celebrated writers—trace the patterns of love within three Dublin families. Love between husband and wife, which begins in courtship and laughter, loses all power of expression and then vanishes forever. The natural love of sister for brother and of mother for son is twisted into the rage to possess. And love that gives rise to the rituals of family life—those “ordinary customs that are the only true realities most of us ever know”—grows solid as rock that will never give way.
In his introduction, William Maxwell, who was for twenty years Maeve Brennan’s editor, writes of the special quality of her work, and especially of the title story, which he places among the great short fiction of the twentieth century.