“Pure delight . . . One perfect story after another” from the Whitbread Award–winning author of the Old Filth trilogy (The Sunday Telegraph).
From the inimitable Jane Gardam, whose Old Filth trilogy cemented her status as one of England’s greatest living novelists, comes a collection of short stories that showcase her subversive wit, gentle humor, and insight into the human condition. Gardam’s versatility is on full display, while her sublime grasp of language and powers of observation remain as provocative as ever.
“A formidable collection that is at once outlandish and entirely convincing . . . It is Gardam’s gift for the ecstatic, for showing us what a place of wonders is the world and the hearts that dwell in it, that endows this collection with a dangerous and formidable energy, richer and more concentrated than any novel. She gives us miracle heaped upon miracle, and insists that they should each one be handled with care.” —The Guardian
“Unexpected appearance of figures from the past drive many of these sly, bighearted tales.” —The New York Times
“Readers will feel lucky to have so much good writing in one place.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Gardam’s preference for short stories shows in this extraordinary collection of great writing.” —NewPages Book Reviews
“A rich haul from a well of talent.” —Kirkus Reviews
The 28 short stories in this magnificent selection from British author Gardam date from 1977 to 2007, and span the length of her career. Some of these stories are connected to novels: "Old Filth," like Gardam's signature novel of the same name, is about Sir Edward Feathers, a British lawyer who spent his working years in Hong Kong (the title refers to the acronym, "Failed in London? Try Hong Kong"). Now retired and living in Dorset, Feathers, a symbol of the decline of the British Empire, reflects on his past, though Gardam elevates the story above allegory. "Hetty Sleeping" follows a young mother on a seaside holiday, where she encounters a former lover; the result is supremely wistful. In "Lunch with Ruth Sykes," the mousy, prim Mrs. Thessaly sets out for London to help her daughter mend a broken heart. Other stories have a surreal quality, like "The Great, Grand Soap-Water Kick," in which a homeless man sneaks into a nice house for a bath. The title of "The Boy who Turned into a Bike" says it all. Odder is "Grace," which begins: "Clockie Gosport had this great diamond in the back of his neck. Under the skin." The full range of Gardam's talents are on display here, and readers will feel lucky to have so much good writing in one place.