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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.
Walking Naked

Walking Naked

Laura is happily married, a mother and a successful novelist. Although she is prey to night terrors, she is adept at smoothing the disorder of reality into controlled prose. Walking Naked telescopes the whole of Laura’s life- childhood, marriages, triumphs and disappointments- into a day in which the past and present converge. It begins with a game of tennis played for duty rather than amusement and progresses, via an afternoon party of old friends and jaded emotions, to a bewildering visit to Laura’s son, imprisoned on a drugs’ charge. At its close, the possibility of death within the family hauls unresolved conflicts centre stage and Laura strips herself of the posturing and self-deceit with which she has cloaked her vulnerability.
Tortoise By Candlelight

Tortoise By Candlelight

With the ferocity of a mother tiger defending her cubs, fourteen-year-old Emmie Bean watches over her household: her amiable drunken father, her gaunt, evangelical old grandmother, her beautiful, wayward sister Alice and most precious of all, eight-year-old Oliver, who has the countenance of an angel and the ethical sense of a cobra. But with the arrival of new neighbours, the outside world intrudes into the isolated privacy of family life and Emmie’s kingdom is no longer secure. Combining the guile of a young child with the desperation of adolescence, Emmie fights to stave off the changes- and the revelations- that growing up necessarily brings. Powerful, heart-rending, but never sentimental, Tortoise by Candlelight is a captivating excursion into the landscape of youth.
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 Doll: Short Stories

The Doll: Short Stories

‘I want to know if men realise when they are insane. Sometimes I think that my brain cannot hold together, it is filled with too much horror – too much despair . . . I cannot sleep, I cannot close my eyes without seeing his damned face. If only it had been a dream.’

In ‘The Doll’, a waterlogged notebook is washed ashore. Its pages tell a dark story of obsession and jealousy. But the fate of its narrator is a mystery.

Most of the stories in this haunting collection were written early in Daphne du Maurier’s career – when she was still in her early twenties – yet they display her mastery of atmosphere, tension and intrigue and reveal a
cynicism far beyond her years.

She wrote exciting plots, she was highly skilled at arousing suspense, and she was, too, a writer of fearless originality – Guardian
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. . .
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.
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
The Short Stories Of Willa Cather

The Short Stories Of Willa Cather

This rich selection of Willa Cather’s short fiction is drawn from every period of her writing life, and mixes the little known with the much anthologised. Here we have a range of stories from short, vivid sketches to novellas. They tell of the bitter lives of Nebraskan immigrants, and of the pull between provincial America and the cosmopolitan world of art; some of the most poignant deal with the challenges and dilemmas for the American artist. Her marvellous late stories are charged with beautifully controlled feeling, and eloquently describe the tensions and complications of family life. Cather also let herself go in these stories in ways she did not in the longer fiction, with harsh satires of New York, chilling glimpses of the supernatural, and strong expressions of sexual feeling. These are stories that add immeasurably to our perception of Cather’s range and complexity.
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.
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