(from The O. Henry Prize Stories 2007)
When the cook heard the American tanks and motor cars rumbling up the muddy road from the west, she ran out of the kitchen, through the courtyard, and past the barn, waving her apron, surrendering in delight. This is what Béatrice tells us. In this moment that she tells us, we fear revealing any pride—those Americans, those Americans not unlike us, except separated by fifty-some years.
America’s standing in the world has fallen far in recent years, but don’t you sort of suspect it was never so lofty as we’re pretending? That our rep was hardly as pristine and awe-inspiring as we’d have liked. In a way, this is a story about coming to that realization. Wandering around in a classic, old-world French time warp, our narrator longs to know the truth about what happened here all those years ago, even though it soon becomes clear that there’s little to romanticize. Spectacular story, gentle, careful. Read it here.
Here‘s more info on Justine Dymond and a photo of her holding one crazy freakin’ cat.