Books I Love

The Other Language July 17 2014, 0 Comments

charm (v.)
c.1300, "to recite or cast a magic spell," from Old French charmer (13c.) "to enchant, to fill (someone) with desire (for something); to protect, cure, treat; to maltreat, harm," from Late Latin carminare, from Latin carmen (see charm (n.)). In Old French used alike of magical and non-magical activity. In English, "to win over by treating pleasingly, delight" from mid-15c. Related: Charmed; charming. Charmed (short for I am charmed) as a conventional reply to a greeting or meeting is attested by 1825.

Francesca Marciano's stories are as delightful and light as they are deep and complicated. They will charm the hell out of you at the turn of a sentence and fill you with a sudden desire for more exotic locales (Rome! Africa! India!) and a heightened sense of living. From the exquisite nostalgia of the story "Chanel" to the life-affirming epiphanies in "The Presence of Men", here is a writer whose humanity shines through and through in her sharp observations of women's inner lives. And what to say about the radiant beauty at work in "Quantum Theory".

Because the real exotic locales depicted here are the subtle tectonic plates at work inside these phenomenal female characters, always in motion, always shifting from one mood to the next, in constant evolution. These are women who are not afraid to be weak and untameable, needy and independent, light and impossibly heavy, courageous and riddled with doubt. The stories are brilliant at conveying the ebb and flow of women's psychological strengths and vulnerabilities. We know these women. We are these women.

A wickedly smart and elegant collection that I was damned lucky to read ahead of its publication date in April 2014, a gorgeous whiff of spring in the beginning of winter.