Jean Rhys (1890-1979)


From the The Penguin Book of Modern ‘Women’s Short Stories, edited by Susan Hill (1991), Mannequin is a a description of ann’a first day in her job as a mannequin in the salons of Paris.

Jean Rhys is best known for her novel The Wild Sargasso Sea, written as a prequel to Jayne Eyre.


Angela Huth (1938 ….)

The Weighing Up

I’m working my way through The Penguin Book of Modern Women’s Short Stories, edited by Susan Hill (1991).  I’ve been thinking about whether these stories still seem modern in 2017.  Some feel dated because of their era and setting, some feel dated because of the themes, but others have stood the test of time and, sadly, this one is one of those…. but the question is, who really has the upper hand, Jeremy or Avril.  On the surface it appears that Jeremy is having his cake and eating it, but there’s a sense that Avril is in control of everything but her weight. Whatever else it is, this story leaves the reader wondering.

Angela Huth is best known for her novel Land Girls (1995) which was made into a film.



Ruth Prawer Jhabvala (1927-2013)

The Old Lady

Ruth Prawer Jhabvala wrote novels, screen plays and short stories, racking up eight collections of stories during her writing life.  This one is taken from the collection Love, Betrayal and the Soul of India (1963).  Perhaps her best known novel is Heat and Dust.

An old lady who has found an inner peace, her spoilt grown up offspring who are impatient and lacking in respect, and an estranged husband  (not her own, but that of her daughter) who is in need of solace.  All set against a back drop of Indian culture and three generations of family.

Georgina Hammick (1939 ….)

The Tulip Plate

Taken from The Penguin Book of Modern Women’s Short Stories, edited by Susan Hill (1991), this is a story of two school friends meeting after some years and finding they have just about as little in common now as they did then.  It is also a story about how fate deals out coincidences and puts peolpe in the right place at the right time for the right reason.  The theme is friendship and what it means in its various forms.  I enjoyed this story from a writer I haven’t read before, or at least I thought I hadn’t until I Googled her only to find she wrote Green Man Running, a book I own, and remember enjoying when I was devouring ‘lighter’ fiction whilst in the young children phase of my life when one of the essential elements of reading was to be able to pick up and put down a book at short notice.  Off now to scour the book shelves to see is my copy survived the recent space making exercise.

Saki revisted


Having read a little about Saki yesterday, I discovered Tobermory to be one of his better know stories so then, of course, I simply couldn’t resist dipping in.  A talking cat no less.  eat your heart out Dr Doolitle.

Taken from Selected Stories of Sake, Penguin books.

Saki (1870-1916)

Reginald’s Christmas Revel

Christmas with the Babwolds must be endured after every sixth invitation, and these apparently dull people, lead Reginald to doing whatever he can to amuse himself (if not the Babwolds), wrecking a game of charades and frightening the life out of Miss Langshan Smith.  Delightful satire of Edwardian society and it made me smile!

See here for unashamed Sake fan mail.

Sake was the pen name for Hector Hugh Munro.

I sourced this story from Penguin’s Selected Short Stories of Saki (1930 edition), orange cover, yellowing pages, lowly smell of old books, and kindly donated  by K for the purposes of this blogging exercise.

Lydia Peele (1978 ….)

Phantom Pain

Taken from Granta 102 ,The New Nature Writing (2008).

Peele is a prizewinning, short story writer from Boston, Massachusetts.

An overweight, diabetic taxidermist, with an ex wife who is still cutting his tail nails on his remaining foot, and doing his book keeping for the business. A community occupied by sightings of what appears to be a panther in the forest … all the elements for an interesting story with a little twist at the end.

I hadn’t heard of Lydia Peele before reading this but will be looking out for her debut novel when it appears this year.

You can read Phantom Pain here.



Helen Harris

The Man Who Kept the Sweet Shop at the Bus Station

This story catapulted me straight back to my thirteen year old self.  It could have been the very same sweet shop, the very  same bus station and the very same bus.  Perfect as a piece of social history.

Taken from The Penguin Book of Modern Women’s Short Stories (edited by Susan Hill (1990)

But who is Helen Harris? Little is known about her, she doesn’t have a Wikipedia page. I found this article   in Thresholds showing I’m not the only one who’s wondering.  I hope she wrote other stuff, and if she didn’t, how on earth did this story end up in the Penguin Collection? The plot thickens …

A S Byatt (1936 ….)

The July Ghost

For those that like their ghost stokes straightforward, this won’t necessarily please. Is the ghost even real?  Ambiguity aside, Byatt does deal well with grief, and I liked the idea of the ghost being outside on a summer’s day.

Although I did enjoy Byatt’s prize winning novel Possession, I find her writing overly worked at times and this story was left me wondering what it was she was trying to convey.  I’m probably just missing the point and other will have enjoyed it more than I did.  You can’t win them all!.

Taken from The Penguin Book of Modern Women’s Short Stories (edited by Susan Hill (1990)