Classic Women's Short Stories

Version: Unabridged
Author: Virginia Woolf , Katherine Mansfield , Kate Chopin
Narrator: Carole Boyd , Liza Ross , Teresa Gallagher
Genres: Fiction & Literature, Literature, Short Stories
Publisher: Naxos Audiobooks
Published In: December 2001
# of Units: 2 CDs
Length: 2 hours, 38 minutes
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From Publishers Weekly
This fine collection of classic tales by women is complemented by appropriate, unobtrusive classical music from the Naxos music catalogue, along with a booklet with biographies of the authors and readers. All of the narrators are exemplary, but Teresa Gallagher's performance of Virginia Woolf's "The Mark on the Wall" stands out. In this unusual stream-of-consciousness story, a woman sitting idly in her home notices a tiny speck on the wall, and as she wonders what it is (a hole from a nail? Dirt? An insect?) her thoughts wander to the people who owned the house previously, to history, to philosophy, to her own life and always back to the mark on the wall. Gallagher sounds completely spontaneous: listeners can easily believe that she truly is daydreaming and thinking aloud. In Katherine Mansfield's "The Garden Party," Carole Boyd's insightful performance accurately portrays British class distinctions post-WWI. Laura, an elite young girl, frets that her family should cancel their long-anticipated party out of respect when a workman is killed in front of their house, but her elders hush her, believing that "people like that" wouldn't expect them to spoil their fun. Boyd deftly creates character voices for Laura, her family, the home and garden workers, and for the poverty-stricken family that she later visits. Her reading conveys Laura's conflict between her former comfortable ignorance and her new social awareness.

Reviews (12)

Classic Woman's Short Stories

Written by Anonymous from Mississauga, ON on October 17th, 2006

  • Book Rating: 1/5

These stories are dull and outdated. I don't know when they were written, but, good, well written stories should stand the test of time - these do not. Don't waste your time.

Classic Women's Short Stories

Written by Molly Rhea on October 7th, 2006

  • Book Rating: 1/5

The reader was good, but the content was lacking. Possibly because of the decandance of the characters involved I found myself not liking the book - well written and demonstrating the class division and how the elite sometimes relate to tragedy of the working class.

Not a great commuting choice

Written by Dena on August 10th, 2006

  • Book Rating: 3/5

There are some great stories included in this selection, however, I found it to difficult to absorb while driving. This is better for quiet evenings at home to enjoy all the detail of the writing.

Classic Women's Short Stories

Written by Anonymous on March 28th, 2006

  • Book Rating: 4/5

The stories were full of wonderful descriptions, placing the listener smack in the middle ot the scene. Reading was excellent. I very much enjoyed these stories.

Classic Women's Stories

Written by Anna Shirey on March 25th, 2006

  • Book Rating: 4/5

I think this selection is better than most reviewers are saying. It's just more subltle than we're used to. I would have liked to have had more stories on these CD's (it was a pretty limited selection), and it would have been nice to have a greater variety of authors. But I thought it was pretty good - the narrators were very good, I thought.


Written by Allison Scobie-Lloyd on March 6th, 2006

  • Book Rating: 1/5

BLECH! Pretensious, boring dribble. The occasional cello music was the only bearable part. I sent the selection back halfway through the second CD. Putting it in the mailbox to put miles of distance between me and the selection was my favorite part!

Classic Women's Short Stories

Written by Anonymous on February 13th, 2006

  • Book Rating: 2/5

I enjoyed some of the stories but had to skip past several others that were very slow and/or uninteresting.

Classic Women's Short Stories

Written by Anonymous on January 29th, 2006

  • Book Rating: 1/5

I did not enjoy this selection. The stories were neither "classic" nor "short". Uninteresting.

Classic Women's Short Stories

Written by Sharon S on January 24th, 2006

  • Book Rating: 2/5

Oh my, this was so boring! I love the classics, but the excerpts just left me feeling as if I had missed most if not all of the stories. It was hard to focus on and I tried rewinding a few times thinking I just had a short attention span....but in reality I was bored!


Written by Renee Locks on July 8th, 2005

  • Book Rating: 4/5

Al though I had read some of these stories I enjoyed hearing them read to me as it added another dimension.

Author Details

Author Details

Woolf, Virginia

"Even though Virginia Woolf?s A Room of One's Own is based on lectures and essays, she manages to involve just enough ?drama? to make her point, and make it interesting. It all begins with her initial metaphor. The ?room? is representative of a woman?s independence. In this work, Woolf makes her illustrative statement: ""A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction.""

Women?s roles in literature, both in ?starring? in it, and creating it, have not evolved nearly as rapidly as women?s changing roles in society. While these changes are reflected somewhat in what is written, female characters in most classic literature written by both men and women seem to adhere to the classic stereotypes. When Woolf states ?Fiction?is likely to contain more truth than fact? (p. 4) she is illustrating the inability of authors to completely separate fiction from reality. Ultimately, an author?s true perceptions of reality will shine through, even in works of fiction. Virginia Woolf wrote during an era in which impersonal criticism was virtually the only way for a woman to maintain objectivity and authority. The late twenties were, after all, a time in which women?s voices were not always adequately acknowledged. However, Woolf?s imaginative use of drama and character development to get her point across can be evidenced in numerous areas of this essentially non-fiction work.

The two most prominent areas that spring to mind are: The battle against authority and master discourse, and the refusal of the ""father"" and the anxiety of his influence, both of which provide very illustrative support for Woolf?s criticisms. Unfortunately, because of its numerous personal references, many critics have claimed that A Room of One?s Own, is somehow self-centered or egotistical rather than objective or critical. Yet in my opinion, Woolf is not using her personal experiences as a means with which to reflect upon her own self-image, but rather as a way to more vibrantly illustrate her external perceptions.

Woolf addresses her thoughts on women and fiction while trying to answer the question as to whether women can produce works as meaningful as those created by men. To achieve this, she examines women's historical experience along with the unique struggle of the female artist over time. Woolf further categorizes this question by dividing it into three parts: 1) what are women really like? 2) why do they write the type of fiction they write? and 3) what is written about women? Unfortunately, the answer to all of these questions boils down to one thing: most of what is read and written, by men and women, perpetuates the sexist myths that pervade our society.

Few female writers have ever garnered the praise nor the popularity of male authors such as Shakespeare. If in fact fiction is a literary mirror of reality, then the evolving roles of women over time, including their social, political and emotional evolution, should past, present and future, be reflected with more insight and accuracy. These are points that Woolf manages to make in a non-fictional medium, but her assessments tell a story as well.

Although few would claim that women portrayed in stereotypical roles is a constructive achievement, it does in fact contain certain positive aspects. Ideally, learning about stereotypes by viewing them through the art of dramatic literature, will encourage people to understand the nonsensicality of restricting women to narrow roles, both in literary forms and in real life. It was Woolf?s hope that through the exposure to these sexist themes and forms in literature, that society?s sensibilities would be awakened to more enlightened ways of viewing women?s roles both on the page and in society. "

Mansfield, Katherine

Katherine Mansfield Beauchamp Murry (14 October 1888 - 9 January 1923) was a prominent modernist writer of short fiction who was born and brought up in colonial New Zealand and wrote under the pen name of Katherine Mansfield. Mansfield left for Great Britain when she was 19 where she encountered Modernist writers such as D.H. Lawrence and Virginia Woolf with whom she became close friends. Her stories often focus on moments of disruption and frequently open rather abruptly. Among her most well-known stories are "The Garden Party," "The Daughters of the Late Colonel" and "The Fly." During the Fi

Chopin, Kate

"Kate Chopin was born Kate O'Flaherty in St. Louis, Missouri in 1850 to Eliza and Thomas O'Flaherty. She was the third of five children, but her sisters died in infancy and her brothers (from her father's first marriage) in their early twenties. She was the only child to live past the age of twenty-five.

In 1855, at five and a half, she was sent to The Sacred Heart Academy, a Catholic boarding school in St. Louis. Her father was killed two months later when a train on which he was riding crossed a bridge that collapsed. For the next two years she lived at home with her mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother, all of them widows. Her great-grandmother, Victoria Verdon Charleville oversaw her education and taught her French, music, and the gossip on St. Louis women of the past. Kate O'Flaherty grew up surrounded by smart, independent, single women. They were also savvy and came from a long line of ground breaking women Victoria's own mother had been the first woman in St. Louis to obtain legal separation from her husband, after which she raised her five children and ran a shipping business on the Mississippi. Until Kate was sixteen, no married couples lived in her home, although it was full of brothers, uncles, cousins, and borders.

She returned to the Sacred Heart Academy, where the nuns were known for their intelligence, and was top of her class. She won medals, was elected into the elite Children of Mary Society, and delivered the commencement address. After graduation she was a popular, if cynical, debutante. She wrote in her diary advice on flirting, ""just keep asking 'What do you think?'"" (Toth, 62).

She grew up during the Civil War and this caused her to be separated from the one friend she had made at the Sacred Heart Academy, Kitty Garesche. Her family were slave holders and supported the South. St. Louis was a pro-North city, and the Gareshe's were forced to move. After the war, Kitty returned and she and Chopin were friends until Kitty entered Sacred Heart as a nun. There is no other evidence that Chopin had any other close female friendships.

Kate's grandmother died three days before Christmas in 1863, the same year Kitty was banished. Kate's half-brother, George, died in the war of typhoid fever on Mardi Gras Day. Her father had died on All Saints day, eight years previously, and these unhappy incidents combined to create a strong skepticism of religion in Chopin.

In 1870, at the age of twenty, she married Oscar Chopin, twenty-five, and the son of a wealthy cotton-growing family in Louisiana. He was French catholic in background, as was Kate. By all accounts he adored his wife, admired her independence and intelligence, and ""allowed"" her unheard of freedom. After their marriage they lived in New Orleans where she had five boys and two girls, all before she was twenty-eight. Oscar was not an able business man, and they were forced to move to his old home in a small Louisiana parish. Oscar died of swamp fever there in 1882 and Kate took over the running of his general store and plantation for over a year.

In 1884 she sold up and moved back to St. Louis to live with her mother. Sadly, Eliza died the next year, leaving Kate alone with her children again. To support herself and her young family, she began to write. She was immediately successful and wrote short stories about people she had known in Louisiana. The Awakening was inspired by a true story of a New Orleans woman who was infamous in the French Quarter.

Her first novel, At Fault, was published in 1890, followed by two collections of her short stories, Bayou Folk in 1894 and A Night in Acadia in 1897. The Awakening was published in 1899, and by then she was well known as both a local colorist and a woman writer, and had published over one hundred stories, essays, and sketches in literary magazines.

As a writer, Kate Chopin wrote very rapidly and without much revision. She usually worked in her home surrounded by her children. The content and message of The Awakening caused an uproar and Chopin was denied admission into the St. Louis Fine Art Club based on its publication. She was terribly hurt by the reaction to the book and in the remaining five years of her life she wrote only a few short stories, and only a small number of those were published. Like Edna, she paid the price for defying societal rules, and as Lazar Ziff explains, she ""learned that her society would not tolerate her questionings. Her tortured silence as the new century arrived was a loss to American letters of the order of the untimely deaths of Crane and Norris. She was alive when the twentieth century began, but she had been struck mute by a society fearful in the face of an uncertain dawn"" (Ziff, 305).

While reading The Awakening remember that it is a kunstleroman, ""a tale of a young woman who struggles to realize herself - and her artistic ability"" (Huf, 69) and remember that Chopin, as well as Edna, was on a quest for artistic acceptance. That quest ended in an abrupt and frustrated manner when she died of a cerebral hemorrhage on August 22 1904. "