Posted in Short Stories

Carl Ruthven Offord: So Peaceful in the Country

Deal Me In 2021 – Week 28

Love was an awful mess of a thing, she thought. In few cases did it stand up as wonderfully as with Jim and herself.

Viola in Carl Ruthven Offord’s “So Peaceful in the Country” takes a job in the country away from her husband Jim. We get a picture of a good marriage through snippets of thoughts and memories while she works for a white couple in which the wife has left her husband unbeknownst to Viola.

While we anticipate something horrible happening to Viola while she keeps house for a hard drinking husband separated from his wife, the worst doesn’t happen but the husband’s attempt to teach Viola to swim frightens her into leaving. The minor (and innocent) swimming lesson only serves to emphasize the strength of Viola’s marriage. There is nothing she wants more than to be with Jim.

This story is included in Black American Short Stories: A Century of the Best edited by John Henrik Clarke. I read it when I selected the Seven of Clubs for Week 28 of my Deal Me In 2021 short story project. Check out my Deal Me In list here. Deal Me In is hosted by Jay at Bibliophilopolis.

2 thoughts on “Carl Ruthven Offord: So Peaceful in the Country

  1. Hi Dale, I think I’m going to incorporate this anthology in my next deal me in project. I’m just today getting organized and even thinking of writing a blog post(!) soon. I’m on story 20 of my 2021 Deal Me In selections but, as you know, it doesn’t take too long to catch up when you’re doing the Deal Me In Challenge. I’ve read hundreds of other short stories this year too, as I have constantly kept a ‘euchre deck’ mini-DMI going all the time. (One story a week is too limiting) Since I semi-retired, I have a lot more time to spend, but so far it’s all been on reading instead of writing blog posts. Gotta change that.
    -Jay

    1. Hi Jay, I agree that one short story a week has become too limiting. I’ve considered having two lists in 2022. A Deal Me In Monday and a Deal Me In Friday.

      This anthology is really good. I included all but 8 stories in my DMI 2021 so I might have to just read those eight on their own sometime soon. I would love hearing what you think of these stories – or any other stories you are reading.

      I happened to come across a copy of The Oxford Book of Jewish Short Stories a while back and got it. Coincidentally, it contains 52 stories and I’ve already read 4 of them elsewhere. Perfect for a DMI list with 4 wild cards!

      I look forward to reading your blog posts!
      -Dale

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