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Courts of Love: Stories
     

Courts of Love: Stories

3.6 3
by Ellen Gilchrist
 

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There is magic in this immensely popular collection of short stories written by a winner of the National Book Award. The first half of The Courts of Love features ex-hippie Nora Jane Whittington, one of Ellen Gilchrist's familiar characters, in tales that probe the intricate, sometimes fragile bonds between friends, family, and lovers. The stories in the second half

Overview

There is magic in this immensely popular collection of short stories written by a winner of the National Book Award. The first half of The Courts of Love features ex-hippie Nora Jane Whittington, one of Ellen Gilchrist's familiar characters, in tales that probe the intricate, sometimes fragile bonds between friends, family, and lovers. The stories in the second half take a delightfully different tack. Here we find a montage of different voices and perspectives -- including a bear-cub's-eye-view of the world -- all admirably intent upon resolving the unresolvable: the tension between possibility and desire, between the limitations of necessity and the infinite power of love. It is precisely the kind of literary experience that you won't want to miss.

"With her characteristic joy and charm, [Gilchrist] provides a thoughtful and complex commentary on what lies at the heart of life." (The New York Times Book Review)

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The novella that occupies more than half of this satisfying volume displays many of Gilchrist's characteristics: the reappearance of characters encountered in previous works; frequent foreshadowing and flashbacks; a mix of the mundane and the miraculous; and copious literary and scientific referencesall employed in the service of an eventful story. "Nora Jane and Company" reprises the eponymous character whom we last saw giving birth to twins, in Light Can Be Both Wave and Particle. Here, the twins are now 10; Nora Jane is 29 and happily married to Freddy Harwood. As usual, all the players in a sizable cast of characters are larger than life: they live spontaneously, even recklessly; they have lots of money and spend it freely and frivolously; they are ruled by passionate emotions fueled by brilliant insights and sudden visions. In the course of the novella, Nora Jane, Freddy and the twins' godfather, journalist and film critic Neiman Gluuk, experience a terrorist assassination of one of their friends; enroll at Berkeley for graduate studies; survive an emergency in the California wilderness; and participate in a minor miracle that employs the long arm of coincidence and a cloak worn by the spirit of Leonardo da Vinci. Gilchrist's matter-of-fact prose carries a gloss of melodrama, and her characters are given to pontificating (about such matters as the fatwa against Salman Rushdie), didactic speeches (about the makeup of the universe, etc.) and outlandish behavior. Nine additional stories make up the second section. One of them centers on Nora Jane as a "very special, charismatic" child (Gilchrist is particularly good with children's and teenagers' dialogue), and all are imbued with wry humor, nostalgia for lost innocence and gratitude for the power of memory to enrich life. Gilchrist's hand is sure, her vision keen and sometimes antic, and the world she has created in 12 previous books is expanded and enhanced by these luminous tales. (Nov.)
Library Journal
This delightful collection of stories features the complexities of love between lovers, between friends, and between parents and children. The first section consists of related stories set in Berkeley that revolve around one of Gilchrist's recurring characters, Nora Jane Whittington, and her family and friends: her wealthy husband, Freddy, owner of an independent bookstore; their twin ten-year-old daughters; and Freddy's best friend, Nieman, a San Francisco Chronicle film critic. When Nieman marries scientist Stella, Gilchrist weaves in a poignant story about Stella's cousin, who adopts two difficult girls after losing her four-year-old daughter in the Oklahoma City bombing. A second section of unrelated stories completes the collection, including one about a young man dying of AIDS who adopts an injured dog and another about a middle-aged woman reminded of the past by a former boyfriend. Gilchrist's strength lies in her well-drawn characters, who are intelligent, complex, thoughtful, and full of good intentions. Her stories are addictive and will lead readers to her other collections, the most recent of which is Rhoda, a Life in Stories (LJ 9/1/95). Highly recommended.Patricia Ross, Westerville P.L., Ohio

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780316317719
Publisher:
Little, Brown and Company
Publication date:
11/01/1997
Pages:
288
Product dimensions:
5.53(w) x 8.16(h) x 0.85(d)

Meet the Author

Ellen Gilchrist is the award-winning author of more than 20 books, including novels, short story collections, essays and poetry. Her new collection of stories, ACTS OF GOD, will be published in April 2014 by Algonquin, along with the paperback release of her novel A DANGEROUS AGE. She lives in Fayetteville, Arkansas and Ocean Springs, Mississippi, and teaches creative writing and contemporary fiction at the University of Arkansas.

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Courts of Love: Stories 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This collection of stories is up to the quality any fan of Gilchrist would expect. However, reading it after the events of this fall made it resonate for me in a way it probably wouldn't have if I picked it up sooner.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Having been a fan of Ellen Gilchrist for years, I found this book to be simply more of the extraordinary same...wonderful characters, larger-than-life plots, skilled and effortless writing. Gilchrist, as always, writes about not what is, but what should be.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I was enjoying this book a lot until about page 52 where the author abruptly launches into a puzzling session of what seems to me to be gratuitous and offensive bashing of Arabs and Moslems. I am a trained reader, and have reread this section several times and can find no explanation for it. I wonder what Gilchrist was thinking?