What makes a master short story writer? The ability to make you laugh, come to the brink of tears and have your heart warmed all in just a few pages has to be the best way to qualify the talent.
Guy De Maupassant is seen as one of the best in the short story genre and it's not long before you can see why with this collection showing his ability to paint a detailed picture of a situation in just a few paragraphs.
To pick out a selection from the first third of the book to give a flavour is not too difficult.
Simon's Dad is a heart warming tale of a boy seeking a father to end the bullying at school and as a result ending years of shame and pain for his mother by landing his mother a husband. You find your heart swelling at the end of the story as Simon informs his bullies that their days of targeting him are over.
Then you get a change in mood with the story that gives the title to the collection, A Day in the Country, providing a girl from a shopkeeping family with a moment of love that she can never forget. Her bawdy mother and ineffectual father are used brilliantly to illustrate the difference between those working in the suburbs and country folk.
That difference between the country and the city is also picked up in the story Riding Out which sees a man keen to show his family he can ride knocking down an old woman as he loses control of his steed in central Paris.