At the core of almost every story in Audrey Whitson’s collection is a female protagonist on a searching journey towards meaning and personal validity. Regardless of whether she is a small child on an Alberta farm, a middle-class woman in California or a nurse struggling with her faith, there is a constant and undeniable authenticity of voice that is arrestingly intimate. This palpable honesty enables the reader to feel fully involved in each character’s journey and cements their personalities in the mind.
Spirituality and the protagonists’ individual beliefs are central to each tale in The Glorious Mysteries. Whitson takes this traditional theme and makes it fresh by incorporating modern and timeless social and personal issues. In “The Water Witcher”, Christianity and white magic make surprisingly comfortable partners; “The Missionary” sees a young girl ponder the true meaning of idol when comparing Christ and the Beatles, and “The Parts of a Man That Can Be Held Together” features a devout Catholic desperately struggling to resolve his religious identity with his sexual orientation.
Guiding Whitson’s tales of emotional impact is narrative that is steady, careful, and enriched by powerful imagery, in-depth research, and very evident personal knowledge of place.
The author is highly insightful in her psychological renderings and remains in tight control of her characters’ spiritual journeys. Whitson has evident respect for each protagonist as an individual and is clearly awed by the forces that shape them. The Glorious Mysteries has a unique spiritual edge and readers will find it alluringly imbued with secretive, significant, and mysterious events.
- Shortlisted for the 2014 Howard O'Hagan Short Story Award
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