These 25 short stories by the late Margaret Craven--selected from popular magazines of the Forties and early Fifties--offer sunny-veranda sentiment, model-small-town ambience, and a chatty style, all of it adding up to a not-unpleasant time-tunnel trip for those who remember when Curtis Publishing (The Saturday Evening Post and Ladies' Home Journal) queened it over the newsstands. Goaded by the salty, often entertaining comments of no-nonsense elderly ladies and right-smart gaffers, Craven's women (the same ones may appear in more than one story) rise or fall according to their adherence to values of hard work, modesty, gentleness, and grit. Sacrifice is often a good bet for single women. Like 30-ish Martha, who (unlike her glamorous, famous twin Julie) ""held down the home front. . . without fuss, without talk""; she'll get her deserved recognition when she spunkily calms a disturbed arsonist. Or Gail--who postpones marriage to care for an ill mother, loses the groom, but sticks to schoolteaching and even attracts a new admirer (who took care of his mother for years). Craven's married women are sacrificers too, of course--they're flexible givers. And there are also stories here about ""perky"" career-girls who come through with heart, near-quitters who pull through to success (a war amputee, a young miner, a singer), and mavericks (an ex-fighter, an eccentric failure of an uncle) who find a true home and those who need them. In spite of some crampers (a black maid of monumental yuk-yuk-hood) and the metronomic upbeats, these outdated yet warm and carefully-crafted tales just might mist the spectacles of nostalgic matrons--especially when they meet head-on with such great Forties lines as: ""Want to talk about it, soldier?"" Not great art, but it's Rockwell-cover authentica.