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The New York Times: "A sly writer with a delightful dark streak."

Date: Jun 25 2014

The British writer Jane Gardam is probably best known for her “Old Filth” trilogy, though she has published a dozen novels and several story collections. Her latest book is a sampling of those stories, spanning three decades. Ms. Gardam, 85, admits in the introduction that she has always preferred writing stories to novels. Whatever the genre, she is a sly writer with a delightful dark streak. In “Lunch With Ruth Sykes,” the title refers to a casual lie that a woman tells her troubled daughter (there is no lunch plan) before heading out for the day, a deception that yields tragic consequences. In “The Tribute,” a group of gossipy elderly women get together in London, ostensibly to celebrate a former nanny who has died (“poor Dench”), but their talk turns malicious. The collection has 28 stories, and only those that venture into the realm of the surreal (like “The Green Man”) prove incongruous and weak.