The Mother Who Stayed
by Laura Furman


Free Press (a division of Simon & Schuster), 2011. ISBN 978-1-439-19465-2.
Reviewed by Lee Ambrose
Posted on 03/06/2011

Anthologies/Collections; Fiction: Mainstream

The Mother Who Stayed is a collection of nine stories, intricately grouped in threes. Each could well be a stand-alone story, yet each enhances the other by bringing a deeper meaning to the central theme of mother and daughter relationships.

The First Trio contains short stories "The Eye," "The Hospital Room," and "The Thief." In these stories readers are introduced to Rachel who is soon to be without her mother.

The Second Trio consists of "A Thousand Words," "Here it Was November," and "The Blue Wall." Herein we meet Marian, a well-known author, whose health is failing and Dorthea, the woman who will care for her in her final days.

And in the Third Trio, Dinah moves from her motherless childhood years to years as a childless widow. She finds 27 diaries that cover 28 years (1874 - 1902) of writings by Mary Ann Rathbun, who raised 11 children.

The stories deal with separation, regret, death, murder, infidelity, love, blood relationships, and relationships that are equally deep but not created by bloodlines. Furman's women are unique and yet there is a piece of "everywoman" in each of them.


Laura Furman is a widely-published author. Her works have appeared in Ploughshares, The New Yorker, Southwest Review, Mirabella and many of the mainstream monthly publications. She has written three other short story collections: The Glass House, Watch Time Fly, and Drinking with the Cook. Her memoir Ordinary Paradise and two novels The Shadowline and Tuxedo Park round out the many facets of her writings. Since 2003, Furman has been the editor of The PEN/O. Henry Prize Stories. She taught at University of Texas at Austin. Visit her website.

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