In these stories, connected loosely but powerfully by their rugged Pacific Northwest setting, LeGuin portrays residents of a small Oregon shore town with sympathy and no sentiment. Many of the tales center around women drawn together in threes - mother, daughter, grandmother - by illness or death.
This is a collection of stories of women. Real women. The kind of women who win the Pulitzer prize for poetry, and the kind of women who are raped and abused and thrown down the stairs by husbands, the kind of women who become mayors and postmistresses, who hold a small town together.
As with all of LeGuin's writing, there is so much depth here that I'm going to have to read it again to see what I missed on first reading.
Bechdel: pass, comfortably; hardly a surprise.
It's very engrossing in parts, and then other parts left me cold. The swathes of quasi-poetry didn't do much for me, but the details of life and love and thoughts were what I stayed for. All in all, not a usual UKLG book. Interesting to read but not going to top my list of her works.
All in all, Le Guin readers will enjoy her normal grace of language and character, but this isn't one I'll remember as one of my favorite works of hers. In fact, beautiful as the language was, this collection probably falls somewhat at a lower level than either the poetry or the fiction I've read from her in the past. A relaxing read with utterly gorgeous language and detailed believable characters...but not one that will stick with me, though the first few stories in the book may well remain with me for a while and bear coming back to.