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A Fairly Good Time: with Green Water, Green Sky

4.11  ·  Rating details ·  57 ratings  ·  11 reviews
An NYRB Classics Original

Mavis Gallant’s novels are as memorable as her renowned short stories. Full of wit and psychological poignancy, A Fairly Good Time, here with Green Water, Green Sky, encapsulates Gallant’s unparalleled skill as a storyteller.

Shirley Perrigny (née Norrington, then briefly Higgins), the heroine of A Fairly Good Time, is an original. Derided by the P
Paperback, 400 pages
Published April 26th 2016 by NYRB Classics (first published April 19th 2016)
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4.11  · 
Rating details
 ·  57 ratings  ·  11 reviews

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Lark Benobi
Nov 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: bnbrbs, uk
This is the best-written book I've read this year. Not my favorite book, but the book where every sentence was so alarmingly perfect that I needed to stop and give a little gasp and read it again, and maybe once more after that. Sometimes writers who write this exquisitely at the sentence-level are called 'writers' writers' but that's not what I'm talking about. This isn't beautiful sentence-level prose for its own sake. It's not over polished gem-like writing. It's perfect writing. The sentence ...more
Jan 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is what you need to know about Shirley Higgins: she’s 27 in 1963, ”a great lump of a Campfire girl” how she saw herself in her father-in-law’s eyes, an ex-pat Canadian living in Paris, prone to helping out both friends and random strangers. Shirley’s also widowed and remarried to Philippe, a very proper and successful French journalist. Here’s what else you need to know about Shirley: ”’. . . when it’s French I’m never sure. I understand every word but do I understand what French means? I m ...more
She would not have lived in a place partly furnished by strangers. The curtains would have been taken down, the carpets rolled and tied with string and put in the basement for moths to feed on. Here you built a life around other people's leavings--your family's, or people you had never seen but whose traces you might find in provincial museums. You built around a past of glass cases, shabby lighting, a foul-smelling guardian saying, "It is forbidden."

What begins as a whirling, Joycean immersion
Oct 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
We get to know Shirley Perrigny, formerly Higgins, nee Norrington, through a nonlinear jumble of perspectives – her husband, her several in-laws, her assortment of friends and acquaintances, her landlord, her mother, Shirley herself, and a 3rd person narrator who weaves in and out among the characters and is sometimes in Shirley’s head, and sometimes not. All of this is the perfect way to get to know the utterly original Shirley, whose life didn't start out promising - in her first few months of ...more
Nov 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
All hail Mavis the master. Still need to read Green Water, Green Sky, which I will savor next year.
Aug 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I decided to launch to Gallant's works by reading her novels first, and I don't regret it. Both stories are so different but they leave you a strange sort of sorrow.
What struck me the most, as is also noted in the introduction, are the flashbacks which imprint "the weight of a memory on a page." While it reminds of Cat's Eye by Margaret Atwood, there's an odd detachment from the heavy memory, as if the feelings associated with the memory have been exhausted. There are countless brilliant recoll
Jan 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
Since there are two novels in this one book, I've averaged the rating--3 stars for A Fairly Good Time and 5 stars for Green Water, Green Sky. The main title is amusing and full of the wit and sharp phrasing I've come to expect from Gallant, but the story as a whole felt needlessly stretched and indulgent in ways that her short stories never are. That is directly contradicted in Green Water, Green Sky, which is pitch perfect in its sublime depiction of the dissolution of sanity and its inevitable ...more
Sep 23, 2018 rated it it was ok
I got through the first 💯 pages, then decided to give it a miss. It's not a story with much of a plot, but sometimes amusing reflections on life, family, and its ramifications... somewhat dated in style, and too much work to plough through. Perhaps I'll try her short stories next time round.
Aug 13, 2018 rated it it was ok
Jun 08, 2016 rated it really liked it
Canadian genius, hysterically funny.
F Cats
Apr 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing
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NYRB Classics: A Fairly Good Time: with Green Water, Green Sky 4 27 Apr 27, 2016 06:49AM  
Canadian journalist and fiction writer. In her twenties, Gallant worked as a reporter for the Montreal Standard. She left journalism in 1950 to pursue fiction writing. To that end, always needing autonomy and privacy, she moved to France.

In 1981, Gallant was honoured by her native country and made an Officer of the Order of Canada for her contribution to literature. That same year she also receive