For years, Gioia Timpanelli has held audiences rapt with her retellings of ancient tales, often appearing with Robert Bly, James Hillman, Joseph Campbell, and Gary Snyder. Here, in fiction full of warmth and resonances--characters we can't help but recognize, prose and imagery that play on the strings of the soul--Timpanelli draws on her deep knowledge of these old stories and their wisdoms to create a new and refreshing kind of storytelling, with hints of both Italo Calvino and Angela Carter. In "A Knot of Tears," a woman's locked-up life is transformed by a parrot who tells tales; her story becomes a subtle and surprising meditation on the necessity of being true to oneself and others. In "Rusina, Not Quite in Love," a strange and lovely retelling of the story of the Beauty and the Beast, a young woman escapes family and society--especially the grasp of her superficial and beastly sisters--to find consolation and beauty in nature and its muse. In each case, women of very different backgrounds--one aristocratic, one impoverished--find solitary spaces from which they can emerge as artists and shapers of their own destinies. With a sense of character unusual in contemporary fiction (not mere personality, but moral character) and a gentle, lyric touch, Timpanelli blends the seeming simplicity of folktale with a richly textured understanding of human nature. With great integrity and affection for language, her work teaches about love and solitude, honesty and art.