McQuade has written a collection of stories about six women that is likely to both resonate with readers for her astute observations, especially of emotional life, and linger in their minds like half-remembered dreams.
Passages like “I have never been so aware of the narrowness of the space between happiness and loss. They are two halves, I am realizing, of the same mass, sliding by each other in the night. And love, the canyon in between,” from “Wedge of Swans,” speak to the heart, chilling in their greater truths, even as the women encounter a series of challenging, unsettling life experiences.
Recommended for readers of Tabitha King, Jennifer McMahon, and Shirley Jackson. Kudos to William Morrow’s art department for the evocative cover art as well.
A dazzling collection of linked short stories about womanhood, motherhood, marriage and transformation, in the vein of such contemporary powerhouses as Carmen Maria Machado, Kelly Link and Samantha Hunt
“These are stories of magical lyricism, contemporary in their exploration of the obsessions of girls and young women, mythic in their scope and mystery…. Remarkable. The work of an exceptional writer.” —Joyce Carol Oates
It begins with a drowning.
One day, Mr. Arcilla, the romance-language teacher at Briarfield, an all-girls boarding school, is found dead at the bottom of Reed Pond. Young and handsome, the object of much fantasy and fascination, he was adored by his students. For Lilith and Romy, Evie and Claire, and Nellie and Grace, he was their first love, and their first true loss.
In this extraordinary collection, Kate McQuade explores the ripple effect of one transformative moment on six lives, witnessed at a different point in each girl’s future. Throughout these stories, these bright, imaginative, and ambitious girls mature into women, lose touch and call in favors, achieve success and endure betrayal, marry and divorce, have children and struggle with infertility, abandon husbands and remain loyal to the end.
Lyrical, intimate, and incisive, Tell Me Who We Were explores the inner worlds of girls and women, the relationships we cherish and betray, and the transformations we undergo in the simple act of living.
Kate McQuade is the author of the novel Two Harbors. Her fiction and poetry have appeared in Black Warrior Review, Harvard Review, Shenandoah, and Verse Daily, and her nonfiction has appeared in The Lily for Washington Post, LitHub, and TIME Magazine. She is the recipient of fellowships and scholarships from the MacDowell Colony, the Sewanee Writers’ Conference, the Women’s International Study Center, and Yaddo. Born and raised in Minnesota, she teaches at Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts, where she lives on campus with her family.