This collection was my first experience in reading short stories in any great quantity, certainly away from any school setting from which I am more than two decades removed anyway. I cannot say what prompted me to purchase this collection outside of my inner mind thinking that I wanted to read something new (I usually stick to science, sports, and history - nonfiction of all sorts) and knowing that I've heard the author's name before. I knew there was a story or two I'd been made to read at some point in school, but I'd long since forgotten.
Upon reading "The Necklace," the second story in the book, I recalled that was the one I'd read before. I had forgotten the details of the story, but I didn't find the ending too much of a surprise either because I didn't forget as much as I thought or I sensed that was the direction the story was heading. Still, "Ball of Fat," the first story in the collection - and the longest - was much more enjoyable. The ending evokes great sympathy for Ball of Fat, and yet the greatest irritation I had with it is that it reveals the ugliness of human self interest in a way that ia still prevlaent today.
Other stories that I enjoyed include "Love" partially because I could easily envision the setting of a cold winter's hunting trip. I also liked the first person narrative and the commentary on the ducks at the end of the story. "Mademoiselle Fifi," like "Ball of Fat" is a story using Prussians as the antagonists was captivating throughout. The descriptions of the Prussians wanton and random destruction of the manor they occupied got me thinking about how lucky I am having grown up in the States to have never experienced a victorious army's occupation of my country. It makes one pause with regards to how some wars are fought in the present. "The Inn" could very well have been a thriller, and in fact would probably make an excellent short film. The psychology of one's mind and how it copes with loneliness is a theme of the story and I found it quite engaging.