The Stories of Jane Gardam


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.
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Stories of Jane Gardam

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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.
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Editorial Reviews

The New York Times Book Review - Christopher Benfey
The most incisive stories by Jane Gardam…are constructed, more often than not, around a double take. From colonial postings abroad, from buried love affairs, from the lists of the presumed dead…a once-familiar figure suddenly looms. The unsettling appearance of such revenants—as in Proust or Anthony Powell's A Dance to the Music of Time—brings about, in these deftly written tales, a shift, a re-evaluation, a fresh sense of what really happened in the past and an opening into a possibly altered future…Gardam's sly and bighearted stories will give Americans another welcome opportunity to become familiar with her varied body of work.
Publishers Weekly
★ 04/21/2014
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. (June)
Kirkus Reviews
Gathered from six earlier collections, spanning more than three decades, 28 stories from the redoubtable English writer. A youngish mother on a faraway beach. Staring into the water, a stranger with a familiar back. It's Heneker! Ten years before, in London, Hetty had been his art student and mistress. Now she's happily married and Heneker is a famous painter. Together they explore a painful paradox, leavened with humor: They're soul mates but incompatible ("Hetty Sleeping"). Nancy and Clancy are soul mates, too, but there's no humor attending these childhood sweethearts, for their future is darkened by heartbreak ("The Boy who Turned into a Bike"). Gardam's stories range widely. She's as good with the very old ("Old Filth," a postscript to her same-titled novel) as the very young ("Swan"). The upper classes, observed with a beady eye, come off unattractively: mean-spirited, oblivious to suffering ("The Tribute" and "Miss Mistletoe"). Gardam doesn't fare as well with the deeply depressed: "Rode by all with Pride" and "Damage" are uncharacteristically labored. She writes ghost stories with flair ("A Spot of Gothic," "Soul Mates") but is less successful with fantasy ("The Green Man," "The Zoo at Christmas"). One exception is her delightfully mischievous sequel to Hans Christian Andersen's classic, in which the Little Mermaid's littlest sister decides to check out the prince for herself. Her verdict? "Men aren't worth it" ("The Pangs of Love"). In somewhat different territory there's "Grace," about a man with a diamond under his skin; it's a tall tale that's markedly less tall by the end. The most attention-getting story is "The Sidmouth Letters": A hustling American academic is hot to buy correspondence which may provide a peek into Jane Austen's private life, but a relative of the woman who owns the letters beats him to the punch. What happens next will thrill some Janeites and appall others. A rich haul from a well of talent.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781609451998
  • Publisher: Europa Editions, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 6/3/2014
  • Pages: 476
  • Sales rank: 56,281
  • Product dimensions: 5.70 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 1.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Jane Gardam

Jane Gardam is the only author to have twice been awarded Britain’s prestigious Costa (formerly Whitbread) Award for Best Novel. She was also a Booker prize finalist. Her novel The Man in the Wooden Hat was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times book prize and Old Filth was a finalist for the Orange Prize and a New York Times Notable Book of the Year. She lives in the south of England.
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