I didn’t expect to be so absorbed by The Virgin Spy (Douglas & McIntyre), a debut collection of stories by Krista Bridge. But I was immediately drawn in by bold opening lines like “as a girl, I was a spy” and “your father’s New York mistress was the one you met.”
A girl looks for acceptance at home despite her boyfriend’s “shiny Christian face.” A pre-teen becomes obsessed with spying on her friends and neighbours, collecting knowledge instead of experience, but as she grows older her habit becomes sad and malicious. In “A Matter of Firsts,” a girl comes to love Ella, her father’s exotic mistress, whose candour is a revelation. A few of the stories fail to develop, or seem flat, but the others more than make up for them.
Bridge’s prose is precise and her outlook on the world is naïve, twisted and comic. These are long, engaging stories with real arcs and moments of genuine insight.