|The dozen stories in Women & Children First explore the distances that exist between people, even within the intimate confines of marriage and family. The characters often begin with feelings of desolation and abandonment, yearning to recover some lost “other.” Sometimes, the women and children in this collection feel estranged from their deepest selves, from the persons they would like to become or believe they ought to be. They struggle with self-deception, religious and sexual tensions, stubbornness, and loneliness. More than a collection that features the comical frustrations or painful laments of quirky eccentrics, these stories are about resilient, resourceful individuals.
“What is perhaps most noteworthy about the stories in this elegantly written and
thoroughly enjoyable collection is the subtlety and the eloquence that the
accomplished Oliver brings to his analysis of his characters. Although he
offers a good deal of variety, most of these stories explore the complex
dynamics within relationships between women and their husbands, employers,
boyfriends, or children … The stories in this collection draw much of their
strength from the author's ability to explore emotional nuance, ambiguity, and
complexity with patience and wisdom. A remarkable and deeply satisfying book.
Recommended for all.”—Library Journal
“His touch is at once graceful, eloquent, blunt, and accurate. Oliver's stories wear
the faces of old friends, long-lost cousins, and loves we missed while making
plans. These are the stories of our women, our children. These are the stories
of ourselves.”—Heather Ross Miller