After many years in England as a practicing psychologist and published author (specializing in sociolinguistics), Judy Gahagan now makes her fiction debut with Did Gustav Mahler Ski? The twelve stories collected here often revolve around a modern female Quixote’s attempt to do battle with the century and reinvent the quotidian. Shrewd and eccentric observers, her characters travel in real and imagined territory. They make their journeys with one eye fixed keenly on the world and the other trained on an often tumultuous inner life. Italy, well-known harbor for escapists and mythmakers, is frequently the background: from the Italian alps where an ill-at-ease and infatuated girl comes upon the house where Mahler wrote “The Song of the Earth” to the deep south where a freewheeler visits her boyfriend’s village only to find that neither the place nor the person match her expectations.