The Brothers Grimm (1785-1863 & 1786 -1859)

The White Snake

I’m trying to be as diverse as possible with my choices  of story but am still at the stage of working through the bookshelves at home.  In my search, I came across a Wordsworth Classics edition of Grimm’s Fairy Tales (by German brother’s Jacob and Wilhelm) and translated by Lucy Crane, with illustrations by Walter Crane.

I chose The White Snake as it wasn’t one of the tales I immediately remembered, and I’m still not sure I ever read it as a child, although that seems unlikely as we had Grimm’s Fairy Tales read aloud regularly as bedtime stories. It follows the usual Grimm format .. .. good, evil, a happy ending, not always without collateral damage en route, with a good dose of morality thrown in for good measure.  Oh, and then there’s the fickle princess who is swayed into loving the hero, only once he’s succeeded in completing three  impossible challenges.

Of course, it was impossible to stop at one, so I took my comfort in the beautifully familiar tale of Hansel and Grethel, a story I read myself many, many times as a child, and I found myself as incredulous now as I was then, at the idea that anyone would leave the children in a wood, or indeed, that there could be a house made of such good things to eat.

You can read The White Snake here and Hansel and Grethel here


Christopher Burns (1944 ….

Angelo’s Passion

Chosen from  The Minerva Book of Short Stories, (1988), edited by Giles Gordon and David Hughes.  The only way to get hold of copy of the collection seems to be through on-line second hand book shops.

The notes in the back of the book suggest that Angelo’s `Passion  was included in his collection entitled About the Body, also published in 1988.   Christopher burns write both novels and short stories nad ives in Cumbria.

in this story, Angelo has made a career of picking up women, whom he keeps until he is tired of them, or until the flow of cash dries up.  In what seems to be a mutually agreeable contract, i was left with a question around who was using who.

Guy de Maupassant (1850-1893)

A Woman’s Confession

If he doesn’t trust you anyway, then what have you got to lose.  You might as well have some fun.  This short short story unfolds predictably but that’s no bad thing, and there’s a little twist towards the end.

Taken from A Parisian Affair and Other Stories (2004).

Maupassant was renowned for his short stories and if you haven’t dipped in yet, you should remedy that immediately.  You could do  a lot worse that reading Boul de Suif the story that brought Maupassant noticed.

You can read A Woman’s Confession (alternatively known as A Wife’s Confession) on-line  here

Sarah Maitland (1950 …)

A Fall from Grace

Inseparable twins, Eva and Louise, are drawn to Paris by the circus, but as they fly between the bars high above the ground and attend parties in an exciting new world, the strange and fascinating Contessa della Colubria threatens to pull them apart.

Sarah `mainland writes novels and short stories and lives a quiet and solitary existence in Scotland. To find out more about Sarah Maitland click here.

A Fall from Grace was one of the stories published n The Penguin Book of Modern women’s Short Stories (1990) , edited by Susan Hill


Elizabeth Bowen(1899 – 1973)

The Visitor

Another selection from The Penguin Book of Modern Women’s Short Stories, edited by Susan Hill, The Visitor is about a nine year old boy whose mother is about to die and who has been left in the care of a spinster couple who live nearby. Bowen’s own mother died when she was thirteen and she sent to love  with maiden aunts.

Whilst the writing is, in places, just exactly as things are (especially in her description of a spare room that takes on a different identity for each guest), I was less convinced by the boy as narrator and the authenticity of the nine-year-old’s voice.

The Visitor is available to read on-line here

Margaret Drabble (1939 ….)

Hassan’s Tower

Magaret Drabble has published fewer short stories than she has novels.  Hassan’s Tower in included in The Penguin Book of Modern Women’s Short Stories (Edited by Susan Hill), and was later part of her collection A Day in the Life of a Smiling Woman (2011).

I’ve seen Hassan’s Tower described a ‘honeymooner’s epiphany’, and a morality tale and there’s merit in both.

Sarah Salway

Leading the Dance

He is everything a partner and father shouldn’t be. She is trapped inside a relationship based on control. There’s nothing ‘merry’ about begin led in this dance.

Leading the Dance is the title story of Sarah Salway’s 2006 collection published by Bluechrome. Sarah writes novels, short stories and poetry and teaches creative writing.  For more information about her work click here

Sophie Hannah (1971 …)

The Fantastic Book of Everybody’s Secrets

Tamsin works in a hotel laundry.  She used to work for a literature festival.  She has a secret and so, she believes, does Ian Prudhoe but getting him to share it proves more difficult than she’d thought it would.

The Fantastic Book of Everybody’s Secrets is from Sophie Hannah’s first collection of short stories of the same name (2008). Sophie is well-known for her poetry and her novels

More about Sophie Hannah can be found here