Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction, Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel, Post Colonial Asian Fiction, The Legacy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and quality Historical Novels are Among my Interests

Sunday, December 27, 2015

"The Front Yard" - A Short Story by Constance Fenimore Woolson (1895)

I began 2015 having never heard of Constance Fenimore Woolson.  I end the year with her securely in my list of favorite writers.  I have so far read about fifteen of her wonderful short stories  and her highest regarded novel, Anne.  (There is background information on her in my prior posts.)  

"The Front Yard" is a terribly sad near heartbreaking story set in the hills of Tuscany about a woman from New England who marries an Italian man eighteen years  her junior.  She felt sorry for the man because he lead her to believe he as all alone in the world.  When for the first time she goes to live in his house she discovers he has eight children from a wife who died a year ago, a nasty as can be mother and a reprobate uncle living with him.  She is expected to be the care giver for them.  Soon her husband dies and instead of moving on she is driven by a sense of duty to stay on, using her little money to feed the totally ungrateful near abusuve mother and her step children.  Her money gives out and she takes a menial job working sometimes fourteen hours a day.  The years go by, the woman ages and her mother in law gets crueler, the children more demanding.  Her dream is to remove a shed from her front yard, allowing a nice view.  

To me the cruelest moment in the story was when one of the step daughters tells her she needs money for a wedding gown.  She has found a rich husband. The woman gives her moneyfrom her very small savings and then says she will need herself a dress to go to the wedding.  The daughter tells her she is not invited because the step daughter feels she will not be comfortable among higher class people.  In fact she is embarrassed by her step mother.

This is a story many step parents will appreciate.  It is full of pain and rings of the truth.

In January or early February I hope to do a Q and A session with Anne Boyd Rioux.  Her magnificent biography of Woolson and her anthology of Woolson stories will be out in February, 2016.

At some point next year  I am hoping to do a joint post on Woolson, Clarice Lispector, and Iréne Nemirovsky. 

Mel u

1 comment:

Suko said...

This does sound like quite a heartbreaking story.

Have a safe and happy New Year, Mel! Thank you for all of your blog visits and comments in 2015. They are much appreciated.