A vocation and a voice : stories / by Kate Chopin ; edited and with an introduction and notes by Emily Toth.
LJ Reviews 1990 December #1
This third and last short story collection, written between 1893 and 1900 and canceled by her publisher during the author's lifetime, now appears to increase our understanding of a woman who wrote daringly and unconventionally for her day. Her controversial novel, The Awakening (1899), has been assumed to be the cause for cancellation. Bayou Folk , her charming first story collection, dealt with Louisiana country people. In her second collection, A Night in Acadie , also set in Louisiana, she wrote for ``seasoned souls'' about adult realities. In this third volume, local color no longer matters--passions consume, romance explodes, and the spiritual pales. Most memorable are the women, the bold narrator who has drug-induced visions in ``An Egyptian Cigarette''; the worldly actress Adrienne in ``Lilacs'' who seeks the serenity of the convent in annual visits, only to find her gifts ultimately rejected and Sister Agathe prostrate with grief; the wife who hears of her husband's accidental death in ``The Story of an Hour'' and exults in the prospect of absolute freedom. Though the themes and characters hardly seem shocking today, any reader or scholar interested in women's studies or period American literature will find this collection necessary. See also editor Toth's Kate Chopin , reviewed in LJ 10/15/90.--Addie Lee Bracy, Beaver Coll. Lib., Glenside, Pa. Copyright 1990 Cahners Business Information.
PW Reviews 1990 December #3
Chopin's (1850-1904) The Awakening , whose heroine rejects her husband and children as she indulges in solitude and in an adulterous infatuation, was embraced by the women's movement 70 years after its publication. Although they pale in comparison to the novel, these stories, which comprise Chopin's third and last short-fiction collection, serve to flesh out the Chopin oeuvre and deserve a place on women's studies syllabi. As in The Awakening , the author's social critiques here demythologize women, marriage, religion and family. A women escapes ``the incessant chatter'' of other females at a party and retires to the male domain of the smoking room, where she puffs on hashish and dreams of a love affair torn asunder. The perverse Mrs. Mallard revels in her newfound freedom when informed that her husband is a casualty of a train accident and dies of a heart attack when he shows up alive. Her fiance is wasted by illness and reeks death, and a repulsed Dorothea bolts; elsewhere, a monk is lured by the voice of a woman, a former intimate. And in a twist on the plot of The Awakening , a husband, plagued by suspicions of his late wife's infidelity, casts himself in the river. Toth wrote the biography Kate Chopin. (Jan.) Copyright 1990 Cahners Business Information.