Many admirers of Jane Gardam as an Orange Prize-winning novelist and a children’s author may be surprised and delighted to discover that over a long and distinguished career she has also published, according to her own count, ‘eight or nine’ books of short stories.
Culled from them and from magazines, this new selection of her favourites covers three decades of her work.
As she writes in her introduction, compared to the effort involved in writing a novel, a short story can be ‘like the lighting of a blow lamp on a building site full of dry tinder.’
Although one tale takes place under the sea, the people who are her subjects are predominantly English, often from her native Yorkshire, but may also have a connection with the Far East, Hong Kong in particular. Characteristically, she allows them to speak for themselves in extensive conversations while she is ready to puncture their pretensions with narration in her characteristically staccato sentences.