Spencer's novels--The Light in the Piazza, The Snare, and others--have made her primary reputation; her stories, especially those of the 1960s, are similarly equipped with the unruffled, smart wryness that makes her fiction so intriguing and pleasurable. In this collection, stories from 1944 to 1977, an early knowing complicity in other people's fantasies, assumptions, and wishes (""The Little Brown Girl,"" ""First Dark"") culminates in perhaps the book's high point: ""Ship Island""--an exhilarating story of a genuinely (if accidentally) free young woman. If Spencer has a flaw as a storywriter, it may be her complete fidelity to her own natural voice: most of the narrators are young women, genteel, educated, but unflustered and more or less able to always cope That this flaw isn't fatal must be because it's so hard to dislike this narrator. (One story, ""The Finder""--a man able to clairvoyantly see the places where people have misplaced things; his wife, who can see, in return, his misplaced heart--is a notable, successful exception.) So, finally, a refreshingly cool breeze comes off these stories--thanks to the crispness and grace of Spencer's sentences, and thanks to the modest, pliant, self-assured working of her considerable talents.