Mrs. Darcy and the Blue-Eyed Stranger (Shannon Ravenel Books) : A celebrated novelist, Lee Smith is likewise recognized as a master of the short story and has been compared with such luminaries as Katherine Ann Porter, Eudora Welty, and Flannery O'Connor. Now she collects fourteen stories - seven brand-new ones along with seven favorites from her three earlier collections. The result? A book of dazzling richness. Famous for unmistakable voices and a craft so strong and sure it seems effortless, Lee Smith's stories strike dead center at the turning points of her characters' lives. Here those characters range from an eight-year-old boy obsessed with vocabulary words to a young bride who has married "way up" to Mrs. Darcy herself, an older woman making it through widowhood her own way. With this collection - her first in thirteen years - Smith reclaims her place as the reigning queen of the bittersweet short story.