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The burning glass of the title of Helen Norris’ third book of short fiction is an archaic expression for the magnifying glass, and the metaphor is entirely appropriate. For a burning glass not only makes small things large, but focused long and precisely enough, it sets the magnified object on fire. And indeed, these nine superb stories are illuminated by the incandescence of words—and hearts—set ablaze.
A lonely widower rents a woman to keep him company over the holidays. The young wife of a considerably older man steps off their train for just a moment and never returns. A woman and her withdrawn grandchild try to bridge the generations and loneliness keeping them apart. In these tales and others in The Christmas Wife, Helen Norris celebrates the heart’s triumph over the tragic losses and nameless longings of our common existence.