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The Waif Woman   By: (1850-1894)

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The Waif Woman by Robert Louis Stevenson is a haunting and thought-provoking novella that delves into the depths of the human experience. Set in the harsh, unforgiving landscape of Scotland, Stevenson takes the reader on a journey of self-discovery, pain, and redemption.

The main protagonist, a young woman named Mary MacCraw, is a captivating figure who embodies the spirit of resilience. Abandoned as a child, she endures a life of poverty and hardship, only to find herself caught up in the clutches of a notorious criminal gang. Her journey through these trying circumstances is both heart-wrenching and inspiring.

Stevenson's writing technique is masterful, showcasing his ability to create vivid imagery and evoke a range of emotions. The moody and atmospheric descriptions of the Scottish countryside evoke a sense of isolation and desolation, mirroring the protagonist's own feelings of loneliness and despair. The raw and emotional depth of the narrative draws the reader in, and keeps them invested until the very end.

Themes of redemption and the search for identity permeate the entire story, offering the reader a profound exploration of the human condition. The Waif Woman is a tale of resilience and the triumph of the human spirit in the face of adversity. It serves as a reminder that even in the darkest of times, there is always hope and a chance for redemption.

One of the strengths of the novella is the complex characterization that Stevenson employs. Each character, no matter how minor, is meticulously crafted and contributes to the overall narrative. Mary's evolution from a vulnerable, lost soul to a strong and determined woman is particularly compelling, and her journey is undeniably relatable.

However, some readers may find the pace of the book slow at times. The deliberate and languid storytelling style may not appeal to those seeking a fast-paced plot. Additionally, the resolution of certain plot points may be seen as somewhat predictable by readers familiar with Stevenson's other works.

Despite these minor shortcomings, The Waif Woman is a remarkable piece of literature that showcases Stevenson's skill as both a storyteller and a chronicler of the human experience. This haunting tale of love, loss, and redemption will inspire readers to reflect on their own lives, and the importance of resilience in the face of adversity.

In conclusion, The Waif Woman by Robert Louis Stevenson is a deeply affecting novella that explores themes of identity, redemption, and the indomitable human spirit. It is a beautifully written and emotionally resonant work that will leave a lasting impression on those who immerse themselves in its pages. Stevenson's ability to craft complex characters and evoke strong emotions is evident throughout, making this a compelling and worthwhile read for fans of literary fiction as well as those seeking a thought-provoking narrative.

First Page:




First Edition , October , 1916. Second Edition , October , 1916.

This unpublished story, preserved among Mrs. Stevenson's papers, is mentioned by Mr. Balfour in his life of Stevenson. Writing of the fables which Stevenson began before he had left England and "attacked again, and from time to time added to their number" in 1893, Mr. Balfour says: "The reference to Odin [Fable XVII] perhaps is due to his reading of the Sagas, which led him to attempt a tale in the same style, called 'The Waif Woman.'"


This is a tale of Iceland, the isle of stories, and of a thing that befell in the year of the coming there of Christianity.

In the spring of that year a ship sailed from the South Isles to traffic, and fell becalmed inside Snowfellness. The winds had speeded her; she was the first comer of the year; and the fishers drew alongside to hear the news of the south, and eager folk put out in boats to see the merchandise and make prices. From the doors of the hall on Frodis Water, the house folk saw the ship becalmed and the boats about her, coming and going; and the merchants from the ship could see the smoke go up and the men and women trooping to their meals in the hall... Continue reading book >>

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