Additional Book Information

Series: NYRB Classics
ISBN: 9781590179871
Pages: 400
Publication Date: April 26, 2016

A Fairly Good Timewith Green Water, Green Sky

by Mavis Gallant, introduction by Peter Orner

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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 Parisians she lives among and chided by her fellow Canadians, this young widow—recently remarried to a French journalist named Philippe—is fond of quoting Jane Austen and Kingsley Amis and of using her myopia as a defense against social aggression. As the fixed points in Shirley’s life begin to recede—Philippe having apparently though not definitively left—her freewheeling, makeshift, and self-abnegating ways come to seem an aspect of devotion to her fellow man. Could this unreliable protagonist be the unwitting heroine of her own story? 

Green Water, Green Sky, Gallant’s first novel, is a darker tale of the fractured family life of Bonnie McCarthy, an American divorcée, and her daughter, Flor. Uprooted and unmoored, mother and daughter live like itinerants—in Venice, Cannes, and Paris—glamorous and dependent. With little hope of escape, Flor attempts to flee this untidy life and the false notes of her mother.

mavis gallant peter orner


Page after page, sentence after sentence, these novels remind us why Ms. Gallant stands as a master of 20th-century fiction.
—Carmela Ciuraru, The New York Times

Both in life and on the page, [Gallant] blazed a trail no one since has dared follow.
—Jhumpa Lahiri

Page by page . . . Mavis Gallant brings to life things beyond analysis. A Fairly Good Time is a very, very good novel.
—R. V. Cassill, Chicago Tribune

In a sentence she could tilt a situation a few subliminal degrees . . . so that we begin to see her characters from a more compassionate or more satirical position. Gallant’s craft and empathy are always ahead of us.
—Michael Ondaatje

Gallant never bores; her stories are packed tight with dense, prickly detail…It is part of Gallant's restless and unsparing rigor to demand that a reader stay interested in every detail only as long as Gallant herself stays interested in them, and not a millisecond longer.
—Amy Gentry, Chicago Tribune

Praise for A Fairly Good Time

Page by page...Mavis Gallant brings to life things beyond analysis. A Fairly Good Time is a very, very good novel.
—R. V. Cassill, Chicago Tribune

[Gallant] is a virtuoso of perspective, and this is how she holds together a universe that would otherwise fly apart.
—Susan Salter Reynolds, Los Angeles Times

Praise for Green Water, Green Sky

A subtle, disturbing, beautifully written novel...[Gallant] has with remarkable skill conveyed a sense of the passage of time as it appears to human beings—events that are separated by years seen in juxtaposition, the past often more substantial than the present.
—Constance Pendergast, Saturday Review

Brief, intense and technically dazzling.
—Lisa Allardice, The Guardian