Elementals : Stories of Fire and Ice

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9780099273769: Elementals : Stories of Fire and Ice

A new volume of stories from A. S. Byatt is always a joy, and this one is rich and rare indeed. In the same distinctive format as The Matisse Stories and The Djinn in the Nightingale's Eye, this collection deals with betrayal and loyalty, quests and longings, loneliness and passion--the mysterious absences at the heart of the fullest lives. A woman walks away from her previous existence and encounters an ice-blond stranger from a secretive world; a schoolgirl draws a blood-filled picture of  the biblical heroine Jael; a swimming pool reveals a beauteous monster in its depths. The settings of Elementals range from the heat of Provence in summer to the cold forests of Scandinavia, from chalk-strewn classrooms to herb-scented hillsides, from suburban streets to rocky wilds. A marvelous present for all A. S. Byatt fans, this magical collection will also serve as a perfect introduction to one of our finest contemporary writers.

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Review:

A.S. Byatt's stories simmer with a sensuality and passion that, like topiary trees in a formal garden, are pruned and trained into cultivated shapes while retaining the wild scent of the orchard. In "Crocodile Tears" a woman walks away from a personal tragedy, deserting those she loves to try to reconcile herself to a death for which she feels horribly responsible. Thrown together in Nîmes with another exiled mourner, a Norwegian full of northern folktales, she ricochets between a numbed calm and a reckless urge for self-destruction. Together they begin to assemble some kind of personal solace out of fragments of European history, fiction, and myth, and so come to terms with their guilt. "A Lamia in the Cevennes" is also set in France, where another isolated English exile struggles for self-knowledge amid the shards of history and folktale. "Cold" is itself a kind of latter-day fairy story of ice princesses and sighing suitors. These are stories steeped in light and color, full of glowing landscapes and sensuous delights. Their intricately woven skeins of literary allusion and keenly observed locations bewitch the reader. Yet the figures in Byatt's landscapes seem powerless to derive pleasure or solace from their surroundings, picking their lonely way through the brilliance, carrying with them burdens of painful memories they cannot shake off. --Lisa Jardine, Amazon.co.uk

From the Back Cover:

Expertly navigating between the real and the fantastical, A. S. Byatt offers a magnificent new collection that transports the reader to a world where opposites -- passion and loneliness, betrayal and loyalty, fire and ice -- clash and converge.

A beautiful ice maiden risks her life when she falls in love with a desert prince, whose passionate touches scorch her delicate skin. A woman flees the scene of her husband's heart attack, leaving her entire past behind her. Striving to master color and line, a painter discovers the resolution to his artistic problems when a beautiful and magical water snake appears in his pool. And a wealthy English woman gradually loses her identity while wandering through a shopping mall. Elegantly crafted and suffused with boundless wisdom, these bewitching tales are a testament to a writer at the height of her powers.

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Book Description Vintage Publishing, United Kingdom, 1999. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. In the same delectable format as The Matisse Stories, this collection deals with betrayal and loyalty, quests and longings, loneliness and passion - the mysterious absences at the heart of the fullest lives. A scholar pursues an elusive biographer, stumbling upon buried fragments of distant lives; a woman walks out of her previous existence and encounters an ice-blond stranger from a secretive world; a schoolgirl draws a blood-filled picture of jael; a swimming pool reveals a beauteous monster in its depths. The settings range from the heart of Provence in summer to the cold forests of Scandinavia, form chalk-strewn classrooms to herbscented hillsides, from suburban streets to rocky wilds. Bookseller Inventory # AAZ9780099273769

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Book Description Vintage Publishing. Paperback. Book Condition: new. BRAND NEW, Elementals: Stories of Fire and Ice, A. S. Byatt, In the same delectable format as The Matisse Stories, this collection deals with betrayal and loyalty, quests and longings, loneliness and passion - the mysterious absences at the heart of the fullest lives. A scholar pursues an elusive biographer, stumbling upon buried fragments of distant lives; a woman walks out of her previous existence and encounters an ice-blond stranger from a secretive world; a schoolgirl draws a blood-filled picture of jael; a swimming pool reveals a beauteous monster in its depths. The settings range from the heart of Provence in summer to the cold forests of Scandinavia, form chalk-strewn classrooms to herbscented hillsides, from suburban streets to rocky wilds. Bookseller Inventory # B9780099273769

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