Elizabeth Spencer wrote masterly, lyrical short stories and novellas about Southerners for more than fifty years. Her short fiction, infused with the sense of place and the elegant precision of an original voice, has earned her a reputation as one of our most accomplished writers of the form.
The Southern Woman collects the best of Spencer’s shorter fiction. The book displays Spencer’s range of place—the agrarian South, Italy in the decade after World War II, the gray-sky North, and, finally, the contemporary Sun Belt. In “The Little Brown Girl,” young Maybeth discovers the limits of friendship in a racially divided world. In “First Dark,” a young man returns home to tiny Richton, Mississippi, a “land of mourning and shadows and memory.” In the elegiac story “The Cousins,” a group of Southerners roams through Italy, tangling with love and regret and the grip of family. Also included is “The Light in the Piazza,” the novella about an American woman and her daughter in Florence that first brought Spencer widespread acclaim, selling more than two million copies worldwide and inspiring the popular award-winning Broadway musical.
In this capstone collection, Elizabeth Spencer firmly claims her place in the long heritage of the Southern short story.
A stunning collection of stories from “one of the foremost chroniclers of the American South” (The Washington Post), including the novella “Light in the Piazza”—featuring an introduction by Afia Atakora, author of Conjure Women