The Camberwell Beauty is a collection of short stories which explore the close-knit world of antique dealers, their obsessions and suspicions, their hatred of customers and the fantasy lives that grow out of the objects they collect.
The Lady from Guatemala tells of a celebrated progressive who is haunted in private by an embarrassing admirer, one of the down trodden for whom he has spoken so eloquently in public. Other characters to be met in these stories are Molly, "as noisy as a blowlamp, but pretty", a women who needs two husbands at a time; an innocent young Englishman in Paris who boasts ill-advisedly that he has no mistress, falls in to the Seine and loses his virginity; and a famous producer who plans a film about the twelfth century Albigenses complete with torture, incest, rape and betrayal.
This collection of stories shows that Pritchett has a sharp and willing eye for the irrepressible fantasies which colour human existence and an informed curiosity about those areas where the absurd cohabits with the rational.
Victor Sawdon Pritchett (1900-1997) was born over a toyshop in 1900 and, much to his everlasting distaste, was named after Queen Victoria. A writer and critic, his is widely reputed to be one of the best short story writers of all time, with the rare ability to capture the extraordinary strangeness of everyday life. He died in 1997.