“The Most Elegant Drawing Room in Europe,” The New Yorker, September 17, 1966. Plus A Start on my Short Story Plans for 2021.
Plus A Start on my Short Story Plans for 2021.
Today’s story is Included in Selected Short Stories of Nancy Hale - with an introduction by Lauren Groff - 2019
If you can isten to something by Vivaldi from The Venice Baroaue Orchester while you read this set in Venice story
Born: May 6, 1908 - Boston, Massachusetts
Died: Sept 24,1988 Charlottesville, Virginia
I am starting to contemplate my Reading Life plans and hopes for 2021.
I have set aside seven collections of Short Stories, all my women, to read in full. Perhaps I tend to read a lot of Short Stories by women as my life revolves around my three adult daughters and my wife.
The writers I picked, open to change or addition, are four American writers, Nancy Hale, Alice Adams, Lorrie Moore, and Carmen Maria Macado. They are joined by Shirley Hazzard born in Australia, very much a citizen of the World. I love the sheer Beauty of the work of England’s Elizabeth Taylor and have a full read through of her oevere
planned for next year. I have read about half of the stories in All The Beloved Ghosts by Alison MacLeod and plan to read the rest. Some of The stories I Will post upon, some not.
Like Shirley Hazzard and Elizabeth Taylor, Hale writers about Family relationships. Her characters are affluent and suffer no food anxiety.
There are 25 stories in The Selected Short Stories of Nancy Hale. I was at once so intrigued by today’s story’s title “The Most Elegant Drawing Room in Europe” that I decided to start there. I loved this story. I liked How Hale played with our perceptions of the American mother and daughter making their first visit to Venice and their relationship with The Italian Countesa in whose Mansion on The Grand Canal they find what they see as the most elegant drawing room in Europe.
From opening lines we see How in awe of the Countess and Venice is
““THE CONTESSA doesn’t seem entirely real, she’s so exquisite,” wrote Emily Knapp to her friend and fellow-librarian Ruth Patterson, at home in Worcester, Massachusetts. “I wish you too might have seen her in her tiny jewel box of a palazzo yesterday, as “THE CONTESSA doesn’t seem entirely real, she’s so exquisite, we did! She’d lent us her gondola for the afternoon. (I can’t tell you how super-elegant we felt, or how much attention we attracted on the Grand Canal.) Persis Woodson, the artist I wrote you about meeting on the Cristoforo Colombo coming over, remarked that all over America next winter people will be showing home movies with us prominent in them, pointing us out as aristocratic Venetians lolling in our private gondola!”
I wondered is Emily just an American rube in Venice, who is the mysterious Contessa? We go with Emily and her mother to a Vivaldi concert which was so much fun to read. We wonder what the Countessa thinks of them. In the close Emily and I are thrown into confusion when we do see how the Contessa regards the Americans.
I look Forward to Reading on in The Selected Short Stories of Nancy Hale