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How Strange a Season

Fiction

An evocative and engrossing collection of new stories and a novella about women experiencing life’s challenges and beauty from the award-winning writer Megan Mayhew Bergman.

A recently separated woman fills a huge terrarium with endangered flowers to establish a small world only she can control in an attempt to heal her broken heart. A competitive swimmer negotiates over which days she will fulfill her wifely duties, and which days she will keep for herself. A peach farmer wonders if her orchard will survive a drought. And generations of a family in South Carolina struggle with fidelity and their cruel past, some clinging to old ways and others painfully carving new paths.

In these haunting stories, Megan Mayhew Bergman portrays women who wrestle with problematic inheritances: a modern glass house on a treacherous California cliff, a water-starved ranch, and an abandoned plantation on a river near Charleston. Bergman’s provocative prose asks the questions: what are we leaving behind for our descendants to hold, and what price will they pay for our mistakes?

Photograph by Nina Subin

Megan Mayhew Bergman is the author of Almost Famous Women and Birds of a Lesser Paradise. Her short fiction has appeared in two volumes of The Best American Short Stories and on NPR’s Selected Shorts. She has written columns on climate change and the natural world for The Guardian and The Paris Review. Her work has been featured in The New York Times, The New Yorker, Tin House, Ploughshares, Oxford American, Orion, and elsewhere. She teaches literature and environmental writing at Middlebury College, where she also serves as director of the Bread Loaf Environmental Writers’ Conference. She lives on a small farm in Vermont.

"An alluring collection centered on women grappling with their circumstances. . . . Bergman emboldens her characters with wit and a shimmering sense of self-awareness. Her attention to details is uncanny. . . . Though alienated from the lives they either once enjoyed or from the futures they yearn for, the characters demonstrate immense mettle. Bergman’s fans will savor each story.” —Publishers Weekly

"An extraordinary, unnerving, and beautiful book. Bergman writes with preternatural wisdom, delivering urgent stories of radical independence and toughness in a world on fire. Like the women who helm them, these stories are ornery and fierce—ready for battle, their teeth filed to points." Rebecca Makkai, Pulitzer finalist for The Great Believers

“Heartfelt, rich in character and detail, the stories in How Strange a Season feel both modern and timeless.” —Jeff VanderMeer, author of Borne

“A gorgeous collection featuring strong women, or women on their way to becoming strong, often while aiming to do some good. There is an atmosphere here—a kind of skewed quality that makes many of these stories disquieting. And that a storied Southern home could be cursed instead of blessed—this kind of overturned belief abounds in these beautifully written stories.” —Amy Hempel, author of Sing to It

"This is a remarkable collection about women reckoning with the past and insistently forging a future in an often unforgiving, confusing and exacting world. Like all of Megan Mayhew Bergman’s work, How Strange A Season is heart-forward, keen-eyed, haunting, and wonderfully satisfying.” —Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney, author of Good Company

“These are extraordinary stories. They'll make you think deeply, maybe uncomfortably, always interestingly.” —Bill McKibben, author of The End of Nature 

More books from this author: Megan Mayhew Bergman