TEN WOMEN WHO SHOOK THE WORLD by Sylvia Brownrigg

TEN WOMEN WHO SHOOK THE WORLD

Stories

KIRKUS REVIEW

Ten clever tales in a philosophical vein, often delicately surreal, from novelist Brownrigg (The Metaphysical Touch, 1999), who muses on the place of women in every capacity from makers of the world’s wonders to givers of parties.

The first story, “Amazon,” is perhaps the least effective, presenting a nebulous image of a pair of female wonder-workers responsible for everything from the pyramids to the Golden Gate Bridge; the older finally retires to let her assistant take over. Subsequent stories, though, offer in detail situations both more substantial and more profound. “The Bird Chick” tells of a woman who cares for the birds in a city park and speaks to them, coming to have such power over them that she can direct them in a performance of Hamlet, a performance that changes the lives of those who see it. There are other strong links between woman and the natural world: “The Broad from Abroad” is a visitor to the city who speaks of her male friends Henry, Joseph, and Bob—each one a forest—with great fondness, even as she indicates a preference for city life because there she can talk and be talked to; and “Mistress of Many Moons” is interviewed about her romances and intimacy with the masters of the night sky. More melancholy and down-to-earth, perhaps, are “She Who Caught Buses,” about a librarian whose prejudices toward a certain group of people, the Chranks, are explained by a childhood experience in which they sank to the bottom of a pond to find the treasure she had yearned for; and the party story, “Mars Needs Women,” about a caterer, confronted with a bash to which no one came, decides to move to Mars.

Whimsy and wit float through these stories like fairy dust, and while the enchantment sometimes has a mechanical quality, mostly it can bring about wonder and delight.

Pub Date: June 1st, 2000
ISBN: 0-374-27289-1
Page count: 160pp
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15th, 2000




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