The American Wife

Elaine Ford

A stirring collection of keenly observed stories from the 2007 winner of the Michigan Literary Fiction Award for short fiction


Of Elaine Ford's novel, Missed Connections, the Washington Post wrote that it is a work "of small episodes, of precise sentences, of unusual clarity." That same clarity proves an unsettling force in Ford's stories, where precision of prose often belies uncertainties hidden beneath. In the title piece, an American woman in England, embroiled in a relationship doomed to fail, discovers how little she understands about her own desires and impulses. In another story, an American wife, abandoned in Greece by her archaeologist husband, struggles to solve a crime no one else believes to have been committed. A strong evocation of place suffuses all these stories, which are set in suburban New Jersey, Boston, Annapolis, and New York City, as well as four European locales.

Cover photo © Sally Peyou

Elaine Ford is the author of five novels. For her fiction she has received two National Endowment for the Arts grants and a Guggenheim Fellowship. She is Professor Emerita at the University of Maine, where she taught creative writing and literature. She lives in Harpswell, Maine.

Praise / Awards

  • "Elaine Ford's collection roams the territory between the intellect and the heart.  She writes of the human condition with precision, in language that is both grave and conversational.  Her characters step out of the real world onto the page, where she develops them quietly, but with compassionate fullness.  This writer grips the reader with her keen knowledge of the psyche of individuals—their motives and secrets—and also with the surprising things that happen to them."
    —Laura Kasischke, judge Michigan Literary Fiction Awards

  • "She obviously cares, she believes that life can be made meaningful through perseverance and struggle, and this concern adds genuinely felt depth to a finely written novel. . .Miss Ford makes every inch of her fictional territory count."
    The New York Times Book Review, about The Playhouse

  • "Elaine Ford writes with a compassionate heart and a tough eye. She vanishes from the reader's consciousness as she submerges deeply into her characters, whom she loves and blesses as they struggle in the embrace of love that is too often a stranglehold as well. She is a wise and wonderful writer."
    —André Dubus, about Missed Connections

  • "Ford's prose has a poised, finely tuned quality that doesn't scream because it doesn't need to. . .Her keen grasp of the inescapable and convoluted effects of family ties is one of the finest achievements of the book."
    Harper's, about Missed Connections

Look Inside

Copyright © 2007, University of Michigan. All rights reserved.

Product Details

  • 6 x 9.
  • 192pp.
Available for sale worldwide

  • Paper
  • 2007
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-11620-1

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  • $20.95 U.S.

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