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An Unrestored Woman

An Unrestored Woman

In An Unrestored Woman, the partition of India and Pakistan in 1947 cuts a jagged path through the lives of ordinary women and men, leaving ripples of sorrow through time and space. Each couplet of stories spans the Indian subcontinent, from refugee camps and torched trains to the spacious verandas of the British Raj, and billows into the wider world. An old woman recounts the murdering of what was most precious to her, and the many small cuts that led her to that act. A girl forced into prostitution wields patience as deftly as a weapon, and manages to escape her fate. An Indian servant falls in love with his employer, and spins a twisted web of deceit.

The characters in these fearless stories stumble – occasionally towards love, more often towards survival – and find that history, above all, is their truest and greatest opponent. And what emerges, in the midst of newly erected barriers, boundaries, and nations, is a journey into the centre of the only place that matters – the human heart.
Complete Short Stories

Complete Short Stories

Elizabeth Taylor is finally being recognised as an important British author: one of great subtlety, great compassion and great depth – Sarah Waters

Elizabeth Taylor, highly acclaimed author of classic novels such as Angel, A Game of Hide and Seek and Mrs Palfrey at the Claremont, is also renowned for her powerful, acutely observed stories. Here for the first time, the stories – including some only recently rediscovered – are collected in one volume. From the awkward passions of lonely holiday-makers to the anticipation of three school friends preparing for their first dance, from the minor jealousies and triumphs of marriage to tales of outsiders struggling to adapt to the genteel English countryside, with a delicate, witty touch Elizabeth Taylor illuminates the nuances of ordinary lives.

Books included in the VMC 40th anniversary series include: Frost in May by Antonia White; The Collected Stories of Grace Paley; Fire from Heaven by Mary Renault; The Magic Toyshop by Angela Carter; The Weather in the Streets by Rosamond Lehmann; Deep Water by Patricia Highsmith; The Return of the Soldier by Rebecca West; Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston; Heartburn by Nora Ephron; The Dud Avocado by Elaine Dundy; Memento Mori by Muriel Spark; A View of the Harbour by Elizabeth Taylor; and Faces in the Water by Janet Frame
Dancing On the Outskirts

Dancing On the Outskirts

Here is a wonderful collection of short stories by the writer known for ‘the Mackay vision, suburban – as kitsch, as unexceptional, and yet as rich in history and wonder as a plain Victorian terrace house, its threshold radiant with tiling and stained-glass birds of paradise encased in leaded lights’ – Guardian.

Shena Mackay, who first came to fame before the age of twenty with two novellas, is the doyenne of the short form. In this volume of previously uncollected stories – including those read on radio – she constantly surprises with a view of the ordinary world that is not at all ordinary.

A grasshopper determinedly takes up residence on a bathroom ceiling; a gecko hiding in a cupboard brings a strange sort of luck; a woman spies from a distance two older women friends after many long years and a memory of how they gallopedin the playground as Starlight Blaze and Pepperpot plays sweetly, suddenly in her mind; pigs are swaddled in blankets, looking like babies in shawls; luggage is packed with youthful hopes and ideals.

She observes how people rub along and reveals the best and worst of us all: a disgruntled schoolboy and his hapless teacher conquer mountains and their antipathy for each other; a girl with green eyes and iridescent hair discovers revenge; a race to be the best mushroom-picker creates only losers; and rotten apples, in the right pair of hands, make a loving pie.

Shena Mackay is a generous and keen-eyed chronicler of the everyday; she deftly brings wisdom and humour to the worlds she creates, worlds that we suddenly, excitingly see anew. She is an utterly original writer.
Don't Look Now And Other Stories

Don't Look Now And Other Stories

John and Laura have come to Venice to try and escape the pain of their young daughter’s death. But when they encounter two old women who claim to have second sight, they find that instead of laying their ghosts to rest they become caught up in a train of increasingly strange and violent events.


The four other haunting, evocative stories in this volume also explore deep fears and longings, secrets and desires: a lonely teacher who investigates a mysterious American couple, a young woman confronting her father’s past, a party of pilgrims who meet disaster in Jerusalem and a scientist who harnesses the power of the mind to chilling effect.
Dr Clock's Last Case

Dr Clock's Last Case

A collection of short stories from the author of “Twenty One Poems” and “Three Poems”.

A. S. Byatt’s comment that Ruth Fainlight’s poems ‘combine Alice Munro’s virtues with something more archaic and also, in exact clear words, give us a truly new vision of usual and mysterious events’ can be applied with equal force to this collection of stories. Acutely precise and elegant, they move from vivid evocations of an American childhood and close studies of amoral expatriate life to erotic humour and black fantasy. The breakdown of a middle-aged man when the ghost of his mother, who perished in the Holocaust, returns to haunt him; the unexplained midnight arrival of three likely terrorists at the comfortable English village house of a university professor; a woman’s half-reluctant marriage to her daughter’s fiance: all these stories demonstrate Ruth Fainlight’s uncompromising subtlety of style, and the range of her sympathies and imagination.
Foreign Brides

Foreign Brides

Funny, irreverent, dark, and tender – a startling and sexy debut collection. Women (and men) cope with foreign marriages in Elena Lappin’s shrewd domestic comedies of the absurd, set in London, New York, and a constellation of European and Israeli cities. Transplanted across oceans and ensconced in strange houses where appliances malfunction and husbands are not what they seem, women like Noa, Vera, and Paula settle into lives of persistently unfamiliar routine, stirred up from time to time with a very crooked stick. In ‘Noa and Noah’, Noa, an Israeli, has been married for two years before her English improves and she realizes that her British husband, Noah, is not a glamorous young businessman but a dull junior debt collector. In revenge she begins to frequent a nonkosher butcher-and that’s just the beginning. Vera, a Russian, married to an unsuccessful British butler, takes to cab driving and extortion in ‘Peacock’; Paula, a German, married to her dead best friend’s husband, writes stories and snorts cocaine in ‘Bad Writing’. With perfect pitch and a poker face, Lappin writes insidiously funny tales about love and survival in an international no-man’s-land of marriage.
Good Citizens Need Not Fear

Good Citizens Need Not Fear

A brilliant and bitingly funny collection of stories united around a single, crumbling apartment building in Ukraine that heralds the arrival of a major new talent.

A bureaucratic glitch omits an entire building, along with its residents, from municipal records. So begins Reva’s ingeniously intertwined narratives, nine stories which span the chaotic years leading up to and immediately following the fall of the Soviet Union. But even as the benighted denizens of 1933 Ivansk Street weather the official neglect of the increasingly powerless authorities, they devise ingenious ways to survive.

In ‘Bone Music’, an agoraphobic recluse survives by selling contraband LPs, mapping the vinyl grooves of illegal Western records into stolen x-ray film. A delusional secret service agent in ‘Letter of Apology’ becomes convinced he’s being covertly recruited to guard Lenin’s tomb, just as his parents, not seen since he was a small child, supposedly were. Weaving the narratives together is the unforgettable, chameleon-like Zaya: a cleft-lipped orphan in ‘Little Rabbit’, a beauty-pageant crasher in ‘Miss USSR’, a sadist-for-hire to the Eastern bloc’s newly minted oligarchs in ‘Homecoming’.

Good Citizens Need Not Fear tacks from moments of intense paranoia to surprising tenderness and back again, exploring what it is to be an individual amidst the roiling forces of history. Inspired by her and her family’s own
experiences in Ukraine, Reva brings the black absurdism of early Shteyngart and the sly interconnectedness of Anthony Marra’s Tsar of Love and Techno to a collection that is as clever as it is heartfelt.
Lying In Bed

Lying In Bed

Do you cover up or reveal it all; seek revenge or just reassurance; let the truth be naked as the day or cloaked in a night-time story? The men and women of Polly Samson’s debut fiction all have stories to tell, pasts to forget, futures to forge. Manipulative or meek, used or using, all are aware of the power of truth, deception and little white lies to get what they want or sometimes what they deserve. Some are concerned with the economies of speech, those little ‘kindnesses’ which protect our loved ones but really ourselves; some investigate the warped logic which adults serve out to children to keep them ‘innocent’; all are concerned with the beds we make and the lies we tell in them. . .
Moral Disorder

Moral Disorder

By the author of The Handmaid’s Tale and Alias Grace

This collection of short stories follows a woman at different points in her life, from the loneliness of childhood, the ardour and confusion of young adulthood, and the mortality we must all eventually face up to. Moral Disorder is Margaret Atwood at her very finest.

Praise for Moral Disorder:

‘Atwood entices us to flip through the photo album of a Canadian woman who closely resembles herself. Come here, sit beside me, she seems to say. Then she takes us on an emotional journey through loneliness, love, loss and old age’ Sarah Emily Miano, The Times

‘Atwood makes it look so easy, doing what she does best: tenderly dissecting the human heart . . . A marvellous writer’ Lee Langley, Daily Mail

‘A model of distillation, precision, clarity and detail . . . Atwood writes with compassion and intensity not only about her characters but also about the 20th century itself’ Mary Flanagan, Independent
Once Upon a Time There Was a Traveller

Once Upon a Time There Was a Traveller

by Various
Virago Press and the Asham Award, the foremost prize for stories by women, present a collection of tales to send you to places you’ve never been before . . .

Here are tales of people who travel far and those who stay at home and dream; of strange things in suitcases; of roads that should not have been taken; of exotic cities and shabby towns. Some are running away, and some are travelling to come home.

With new stories from well-known writers, including Helen Dunmore, and an Angela Carter fable, this is a book to tuck in your backpack, your valise or to enjoy, deep in your armchair, for no one can fail to be hooked by those beguiling words: once upon a time there was a traveller . . .
Only Poet And Other Stories

Only Poet And Other Stories

A volume of Rebecca West’s short fiction. Including the novella “The Only Poet”, found amongst her papers after her death, this selection comprises unpublished work and published stories gathered from British and American journals and periodicals.
Selected Stories

Selected Stories

A brother and sister, shattered by the horrors of war, find solace in a tender, incestuous ‘marriage’. A wife, bored and rancorous, stitches a widow’s quilt. An old level-crossing keeper watches over his speechless, disfigured niece. In this magnificent selection of her stories, ranging from 1932 to 1977, Sylvia Townsend Warner casts a compassionate but piercing eye on the oddities of love. There’s the joyously farcical story of the mouse and the four-poster bed, the strange fugue of a sad woman and her doppelganger cat, the composer unexpectedly spending an afternoon ‘living for others’. And finally, there’s the skein of stories reporting on the events of Elfland, precise, witty and strange. Readers who know this author’s work will be delighted, while newcomers will find the perfect introduction to a writer of incomparable style and substance.
Something Was There . . .

Something Was There . . .

by Various
The latest stunning collection of short stories, including the winning entry of the 2011 Asham Short Stories Award, which was set up 1995 to encourage and promote new writing. It is the only short story competition whose winners and runners-up are published alongside some of our best known women writers. Past collections have included specially commissioned stories by Carol Shields, Michele Roberts, Barbara Trapido, Patricia Duncker, Helen Simpson, Helen Dunmore, Deborah Moggach. Margaret Atwood and A.L. Kennedy.

This year’s theme is Ghosts and Gothic and will be judged by authors Sarah Waters and Polly Samson and Virago publisher Lennie Goodings.
The Breaking Point

The Breaking Point

The apathy of Sunday lay upon the streets. Houses were closed, withdrawn.
“They don’t know,” he thought, “those people inside, how one gesture of mine, now, at this minute, might alter their world. A knock on the door, and someone answers – a woman yawning, an old man in carpet slippers, a child sent by its parents in irritation; and according to what I will, what I decide, their whole future will be decided . . . Sudden murder. Theft. Fire.” It was as simple as that.’

In this collection of suspenseful tales in which fantasies, murderous dreams and half-forgotten worlds are exposed, Daphne du Maurier explores the boundaries of reality and imagination. Her characters are caught at those moments when the delicate link between reason and emotion has been stretched to the breaking point. Often chilling, sometimes poignant, these stories display the full range of Daphne du Maurier’s considerable talent.
The Daylight And The Dust: Selected Short Stories

The Daylight And The Dust: Selected Short Stories

I’m a short story addict, both reading and writing them, and I always keep hoping for the perfect story.’ (Janet Frame to Tim Curnow, January 1984)

THE DAYLIGHT AND THE DUST is the most comprehensive selection of Janet Frame’s stories ever published, taken from the four different collections released during her lifetime and featuring many of her best stories. Written over four decades, they come from her classic prize-winning collection THE LAGOON AND OTHER STORIES, first published in 1952, right up to the volume YOU ARE NOW ENTERING THE HUMAN HEART, published in the 1980s. This new selection also includes five works that have not been collected before.

Janet Frame’s versatility dazzles. Her themes range from childhood to old age to death and beyond. Within the pages of one book the reader is transported from small town New Zealand to inner-city London, and from realism to fantasy.

This volume offers the most comprehensive collection of Janet Frame’s unique and powerful writing.
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