Five Tuesdays in Winter

by Lily King

Hardcover, 2021




Grove Press (2021), 240 pages


Fiction. Literature. Short Stories. HTML: Award-winning Lily King's first-ever collection of exceptional and innovative short stories With Writers & Lovers and Euphoria, Lily King's books catapulted onto bestseller and best-of-the-year lists across the country and established her as one of our most "brilliant" (New York Times), "wildly talented" (Chicago Tribune), and beloved authors in contemporary fiction. Now, for the first time ever, King collects ten of her finest short storiesâ??half published in leading literary magazines and half brand newâ??opening fresh realms of discovery for avid and new readers alike. Told in the intimate voices of unique and endearing characters of all ages, these tales explore desire and heartache, loss and discovery, moments of jolting violence, and the inexorable tug toward love at all costs. A bookseller's unspoken love for his employee rises to the surface, a neglected teenage boy finds much-needed nurturing from an unlikely pair of college students hired to housesit, a girl's loss of innocence at the hands of her employer's son becomes a catalyst for strength and confidence, and a proud nonagenarian rages helplessly in his granddaughter's hospital room. Romantic, hopeful, brutally raw, and unsparingly honest, some even slipping into the surreal, these stories are, above all, about King's enduring subject of love. Lily King's literary mastery, her spare and stunning prose, and her gift for creating lasting and treasured characters is on full display in this curated selection of short fiction. Five Tuesdays in Winter showcases an exhilarating new form for this extraordinarily gifted author writing at the height of her career… (more)

User reviews

LibraryThing member pgchuis
I received a copy of this collection from the publisher via NetGalley.

I am not a big fan of short stories, but I loved 'Writers and Lovers' so much that I thought I would give these a try. I enjoyed some more than others: I thought 'Five Tuesdays in Winter', 'When in the Dordogne', and 'Hotel
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Seattle' were excellent; I couldn't see the point of 'Mansard' and I gave up on 'The Man at the Door'. I think I'll stick to her novels in future.
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LibraryThing member RidgewayGirl
The problem with Lily King's short story collection is that the first story was so perfect that I was over-invested by the end of it and never recovered from this not being a novel about a fourteen year old girl working as a summer nanny for a wealthy family. So when I picked up the book to read
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the next story, I spent it regretting that it wasn't the second chapter in the book I badly want to read, but another very fine story, this time about a quiet bookstore owner who is raising his daughter alone and the bookstore employee who comes over to help his daughter with her French. The stories here are fantastic. King writes with empathy and skill and her writing here reminds me of both Elizabeth Strout and Elizabeth McCracken. Each one is just lovely and I wish there had been twice as many stories in this collection.
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LibraryThing member Beamis12
If you build it they will come, or rather if you write it, they will read. In this, her first book of short stories, Lily King, proves the adage. If you enjoy her novels, one will find the same quality of writing within. Though as with most books of shorts, there will be some the reader likes,
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dislikes, more than others.

Quite a few of the stories feature a young person, where something unexpected will prove to be pivotal in their lives. My favorite though, also the shortest, is, Waiting for Charlie. A you g woman is severely injured in a skiing accident, and her 91 year old grandfather comes to visit in hospital. He is full of hubris, sure he can wake her up though others have failed. He leaves after having an epiphany of his own. There are some things, that no matter how much we want to, that we cannot control. Think this struck me because it has been in the last 18 months with Covid, a lesson we have all learned.

ARC from Edelweiss.
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LibraryThing member msf59
This is a terrific collection of ten stories, dealing with love, loss and discovery. Many of the main characters are children or young adults, trying to find a foothold in their approaching adulthood. One of my favorites is about a young boy who is left home while his parents are in Europe. He is
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left in the care of a pair of rambunctious college sophomores and is taught more about life in those few weeks than he had in his entire childhood. Another favorite is the title story, about a bookshop owner. He is a single father with a teenage daughter and he falls hopelessly in love with a young woman that works in his shop. I loved King’s last two novels and I am glad to see that she is just as deft at short fiction. She has quickly become a favorite.

**Thanks to Edelweiss for giving me an e-galley of this one.
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LibraryThing member froxgirl
This is a pleasant collection of ten short stories, offering nothing startling or novel, with most of them centering around marriages and children. The title story is the sweetest, about a bookstore proprietor and his younger assistant. The next best is When in the Dordogne, a coming-of-age tale in
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which two men care for a fifteen year old boy when his parents are away on a trip, and only wonderful things happen - it reminded me of The Guncle. Another good choice is Timeline, which is teaming with strange characters colliding in amusing incidents until someone calls social services. King's last novel Writers and Lovers was a much more intense read.

Quote: "Sue liked fighting other people's battles."
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LibraryThing member nivramkoorb
I have read LIly King's last 2 novels and thought they were excellent. This is her first short story collection and short stories have to be judged from a different criteria. To me they always come with an element of ambiguity as it relates to how many of them end. This happens in this collection
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with many of the stories begging the question "what was really going on here". That being said, I thought this was an excellent collection. Most of the stories had characters that were dealing with troubled family relationships.The stories dealt with time frames from the early 70's until the present with lead characters both male and female as well as gay and straight. If you have never read King, then I suggest you check out this collection which is around 240 pages and a good introduction to an excellent author. I will probably go on to read her earlier works.
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LibraryThing member RandyMetcalfe
Lily King appreciates a love story. The title story in this collection is a very sweet tale of a father and daughter and the woman who enters their lives. That’s not untypical of Kings’s approach to short stories. She tends towards psychological realism, intergenerational angst, and our fraught
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response to momentous change through grief or other complex emotions. I enjoyed each of these stories without, I suppose, being astounded by any of them. I guess that makes King a very readable writer of short stories.

And also very easy to at least gently recommend.
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LibraryThing member bobbieharv
I don't usually read short stories, but I've loved all but one of Lily King's books (most recently Writers and Lovers) so I was happy to get this from my library. Very mixed reactions. The writing didn't seem up to her usual luminous standard, but maybe because the form doesn't allow a gradual
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accretion of luminosity. I have a feeling if I were to reread all her previous work, the themes that recur for her would each be illustrated by a particular story. This aspect of the book I liked, but I found quite a few of the stories disturbing. Each seemed to be about a different form of love, but there was quite a bit of cruelty, both emotional and physical. Maybe that was the point.
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LibraryThing member oldblack
Mostly good, some very good, others less so.
LibraryThing member Narshkite
With any short story collection there will be variation in quality, but in this collection the range goes only from very good to spectacular.

Most collections also have inconsistent tone or subject matter, but not this. These are all stories of parenting (well and badly), being parented (well and
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badly), and dealing with the wages of having been parented (well or badly.) Also there is an ongoing theme centered on the disconnect between being a parent and being a person. The struggle is real.

Brief thoughts on each story:

Creature: 5-stars. What a beginning! This story flattened me. I never saw where things were going, but when they got "there" I couldn't imagine how I had ever thought they would go any other way. Also, there is a line where she says something sounds like the castanets in the It's a Small World Ride, and though it is a violent and disturbing scene that made me laugh out loud.

Five Tuesdays in Winter. 5-stars. It shocks me that this was probably my favorite story in the collection. I always say that I hate things which are sweet and heartwarming, and this is absolutely those things. It reminded me that what I really hate is saccharine and manipulative. Things that are authentically sweet and heartwarming are just lovely. It is a fine line, but King nails it. There is an intimate and important menstruation scene, played for neither laughs or ick factor, and I just do not know how King did it but it's perfect.

When in the Dordogne: 5-Stars. I said the last story was probably my favorite because I suspect with time this story will end up to be the one I most treasure. It is so gentle and funny, and it illustrates perfectly how those people who blaze through our lives for short periods can also be the people who have on us the greatest impact. This book also had some of my favorite language. The witty repartee is gold, but there is also really pretty language that again, like the last story, borders on saccharine, but is not. Ex: On first love "the girl whose ankle socks made your stomach flip at age 14, whose wet hair smells like your past, the girl who was with you the very moment you were introduced to happiness." I mean... "whose wet hair smells like your past" is just so good.

North Sea: 3.5 stars. My second least favorite story though it was still pretty great. I liked the arc, the final scene is gutting and really illuminates an element of grief in a unique and true way, but I did not connect to the characters. It felt like each was one tick too far in the direction of patience (for the mother) and surly teenage rebellion (for the daughter) and that got in the way of the story delivering the gut-punch of realness that most of the others bring.

Timeline: 5 star. This story reminded me the most of Writers and Lovers, which was my favorite read of 2020, so of course I loved it. It was moving, funny, weird and a little tragic. The reference to the first y chromosome on the evolutionary timeline as "the mitochondrial Eve" made my heart sing.

Hotel Seattle: 5 star. I loved this story, but it felt disconnected from the rest of the book (though there are definite parallels to the fleeting friends in When in the Dordogne. I am not a man so maybe I am missing something, but it feels to me like King really understands the danger and confusion of traditional performative masculinity.

Waiting for Charlie: 4 star. This was so touching, centering on a grandparent sitting beside the bed of a granddaughter in what is likely a persistent vegetative state. Still, somehow it did not consistently feel as human and real as some of the other stories. If it was not surrounded by such glorious work it might have been a 5

Mansard: 3 stars. This was my least favorite story. It seemed so mannered and intentionally structured. Don't get me wrong, intentionality is mostly a good thing, but I don't like to see the bones and here I could. I can relate to having a parent who thinks you are there for their entertainment when they feel like paying attention. These are the parents who decide to be people, not to be parents. Here I could see what was going to happen, and it happened. It just did not hold the same beautiful surprises as the other stories.

South: 5 stars. Not much to say about this, but King got everything here right. I know that because it comes pretty close to a conversation I had with my own. She hits on those sore reflexive points we all have just perfectly.

The Man at the Door:. 5 star. This felt tonally different from all the other stories. I never expected magical realism. King anthropomorphized he anxiety closet and it is a little tragic but mostly hilarious and relatable. Its hard out there for parents who are primary caretakers and also trying to do anything else -- in the story it is writing, but for me it was other things. You love your kids, you do, but.... Anyway, I loved how King took the anxiety closet and turned it into something she could do something about. So smart and the use of magical realism to make the real more real blew me away.
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LibraryThing member sriddell
Strong collection of short stories about all sorts of relationships - families, friends, marriages.

Reminded me of Alice Munro's work.
LibraryThing member Cariola
This is an interesting collection of short stories, most of them focused on love, loss, desire, and a longing for reconciliation. A man sits at the hospital bedside of his comatose granddaughter, willing her to awake while memories rush in. A new mother and would-be writer receives a frustrating
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visit from an editor who has come to tear apart her book--which hasn't been submitted anywhere. Two college roommates who have grown apart following one's revelation that he is gay meet again in middle age. The world opens up for a 14-year old boy when his parents hire two college boys to housesit while they are away. A French mother tries to reconnect with her teenaged daughters by telling hem a ghost story during a road trip. These stories and more are engaging, their very believable characters examined in depth. King's writing is clear and crisp, and the emotional density of her stories is subtly woven as they progress. This is her first short story collection, following the publication of several successful novels.
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LibraryThing member labfs39
The ten stories published in this collection range from coming-of-age pieces to middle-aged angst vignettes. They cover a wide range of topics, but the stories share a similar emotionally tepid space, even when discussing rape or murder. I suspect that I am the wrong reader for this book and
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perhaps this author.
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The Story Prize (Finalist — 2021)
Kirkus Reviews Best Book of the Year (Short Fiction — 2021)


Original language

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