“Dazzling.” —The New York Times Book Review, Editors’ Choice
“Richly satisfying.” —The Wall Street Journal
“These are stories you want to live in…a collection perfectly suited for our moment.” —Booklist (starred review)
A collection of stories “so beautifully crafted they feel like tiny worlds unto themselves” (Los Angeles Times) about women experiencing all life’s beauty and challenges, from award-winning writer Megan Mayhew Bergman.
A recently separated woman fills a huge terrarium with rare flowers to establish control over a small world and attempt to heal her broken heart. A competitive swimmer negotiates over which days she will fulfill her wifely duties, and which days she will keep for herself. A peach farmer wonders if her orchard will survive a drought. And generations of a family in South Carolina struggle with fidelity and their cruel past, some clinging to old ways and others painfully carving new paths.
In this “closely observed” (The New Yorker) collection, Megan Mayhew Bergman portrays women who wrestle with problematic inheritances: a modern glass house on a treacherous California cliff, a water-starved ranch, and an abandoned plantation on a river near Charleston. “Bergman’s stories are so emotionally rich that they serve as portals into distinct interior worlds...this collection is distinct and vivid...As singular as it is atmospheric” (Kirkus Reviews, starred review).
Bergman (Almost Famous Women) assembles an alluring collection centered on women grappling with their circumstances. In the opener, "Workhorse," a florist procures lavish installations of endangered plants to console herself over a tyrannical father and the heartbreak of a marriage on the rocks. In "Wife Days," a competitive swimmer measures her alone time against her time as a spouse. The daughter of a second-wave feminist in "The Heirloom" covers costs on her ranch by allowing groups of hedge funders to crush cars with her bucket loader, while in "Peaches, 1979," a peach farmer desperately prays for rain. The novella-length "Indigo Run" involves a God-fearing Southern family and their restless daughter who looks back on her childhood in the 1920s and '30s, when she became embroiled in the revival ritual of a local preacher. Bergman emboldens her characters with wit and a shimmering sense of self-awareness. Her attention to details is often uncanny, such as the "Workhorse" narrator's description of her estranged husband after his return home from rehab: "his eyes were wider these days, like he was waiting for his addiction to meet him around the next corner." Though alienated from the lives they either once enjoyed or from the futures they yearn for, the characters demonstrate immense mettle. Bergman's fans will savor each story.