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ACROSS THE BRIDGE by Mavis Gallant



by Mavis Gallant

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1993
ISBN: 0-679-42213-7
Publisher: Random House

 Eleven more spare, elegant stories from French-Canadian author Gallant (In Transit, 1989, etc.), ten of which first appeared in The New Yorker. Interconnected vignettes of the family Carette form the first four stories. In ``1933,'' a newly widowed but stalwart Mme. Carette is forced to move with her young daughters Berthe and Marie to a smaller apartment in a seedy street in Montreal. Sixteen years later, in ``The Chosen Husband,'' a still resolute Mme. Carette arranges a marriage for her feeble-witted younger child Marie. By the 60's, in ``From Cloud to Cloud,'' Marie's husband has died and Marie must move in with older sister Berthe; meanwhile, Marie's 18- year-old son Raymond steals the family Volkswagen and flees to the US and Vietnam. ``Florida'' recounts his subsequent spotty career in the motel trade. Other stories are divided between Montreal and Paris, where Gallant has lived since the 1950's. In ``Dede,'' an upper-class Parisian schoolboy is braced by a visit from his black- sheep uncle. In the lengthy title story, a feisty French-Italian girl almost succeeds in overturning her mother's plan that she marry Arnaud Pons, son of Parisian family friends--until she discovers that marrying Arnaud is exactly what will make her happy. In ``Forain'' and the lovely ``A State of Affairs,'' Gallant touchingly follows the now circumscribed lives of a handful of elderly Central European refugees in Paris. And in the final, brilliant ``The Fenton Child,'' she returns to Montreal, where a proper Irish Catholic girl--with a charming ward-heeler for a father--aids in what she comes to realize is an illegal adoption arranged for an ``English'' family in the district. In each of these pieces and others, the details are all: shades of meaning turn on the condition of the furnishings and the color of the light. Another fine collection from Gallant.