The beloved author at her storytelling best: four wonderful novellas of Americans abroad and Europeans in America. In these tales of relationships at home and abroad, both historical and contemporary, we meet the ferocious Simone Weil during her final days as a transplant to New York City; a vulnerable American grad student who escapes to Italy after her first, compromising love affair; the charming Irish liar of the title novella, who gets more out of life than most of us; and an American high school kid meeting Thomas Mann. These stories dazzle on the surface, with beautifully rendered settings and vistas, and dig deep psychologically. At every turn Gordon reveals in her characters' interactions those crucial flashes of understanding that change lives forever. So richly developed it is hard to believe they fit into novella-sized packages, these tales carry us away both as individual stories and as a larger, book-length experience of Gordon's mastery and human sympathy.
Mary Gordon is the author of six novels, including Final Payments, Pearl, and The Love of My Youth; the memoirs The Shadow Man and Circling My Mother; and The Stories of Mary Gordon, which was awarded the Story Prize. She has received numerous other honors, including a Lila Wallace-Reader′s Digest Writers′ Award, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and an Academy Award for Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. She teaches at Barnard College and lives in New York City.