MY AUNT CHRISTINA by J. I. M. Stewart

MY AUNT CHRISTINA

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Like The Bridge at Arts (1982): another representative sampling of Stewart's short-story output--with, again, a dry mixture of academic anecdotes, clinical-psych. vignettes, family secrets, and class-consciousness. Most memorable, if perhaps least convincing, is ""A Time for Dreams,"" in which a stuffy spinster is repelled by--yet attracted to--the licentious rock-group that moves into the posh manse down the road. . . with over-stimulating (rather arbitrarily fatal) results. ""The Doctor's Son"" offers that most familiar of Stewart themes: fakery in academia--as a struggling scholar appropriates the posthumous scribbles of a gifted amateur textual-critic. . . but years later must pay for his sin by turning out wretched dissertations on Joyce for the American scholar/blackmailer who knows the scandalous secret. (Some overdone satire of US academia here.) And the title story supplies a disappointing windup to a promising family-mystery (why does the well-off narrator's old Scottish aunt live in self-imposed austerity?)--while ""Tea with Mr. Montacute"" is a thin, whimsical sliver of abnormal psychology. Erudite as always, with crisp narration and a touching moment or two amid the donnishly mild amusement--but, like the slightly more impressive Bridge at Arts collection, this septet of small tales provides nothing very nourishing.

Pub Date: Aug. 15th, 1983
Publisher: Norton