March 02, 1981 12:00 PM

by Laurie Colwin

In the title story of this short-fiction collection, the narrator is a woman illustrator who is always a perfect guest in her friends’ homes. She falls in love, futilely, then is smitten again—with a publisher of beautiful books. This time her love is returned. In Sentimental Memory, the heroine flees to Scotland from two broken marriages and meets a youth suffering his first romantic passion. In The Boyish Lover, Colwin’s heroine meets a rich swain who is divorced. They are attracted but she finds he’s resentful of her generosity and other good qualities. A Girl Skating is about the discomfort of a young woman when a famous poet fixes on her as inspiration for his work. Colwin’s most recent novel, Happy All the Time, was published in 1978 and delighted critics with its bubbly avoidance of the indulgent, self-absorbed writing affected by many of today’s fledgling authors. Colwin, 36, is a deft entertainer who provides fresh observations about the nature of love. The greatest tribute that can be paid these stories is that most of her characters are so convincingly conveyed they could have supported a whole novel. (Knopf, $9.95)

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