A first collection of eight distinctive stories, each recording with great sympathy and precision the ways in which small emotional changes resonate through the domestic lives of ordinary, thoughtful men, women and children. The most moving of these stories are the most purely domestic: ""A Family Story,"" in which an affluent young husband and wife, their 10-year-old daughter and the wife's father are spending the summer together in the country and find their small misreadings of one another deepening into alienation; ""When the Pipes Froze,"" an evocation of the stages of marriage, seen through the eyes of a middle-aged woman whose husband's and her hopes for a cozy country weekend are dashed by the discovery of frozen pipes in their house (and in themselves); and perhaps best of all, ""Meditation on Play, Thoughts on Death,"" in which a mother, regretting the end of her son's wild and imaginative babyhood, stands at the edge of a winter pond and watches a dead swan begin to move with the roiling of the water, reflecting that ""Everything had seemed immobile, utterly still, and when I noticed the slight swerve of the floating world I felt my chilled body sway in response. I saw, as time slowed, that what had seemed frozen and fixed was in motion. . . all moving in the same direction. . .I made a strange sound in my throat. I felt it leave my mouth and wing away."" Collins' stories are not dark, but they are rich and somber, full of subtlety and force. All in all, an impressive debut.