Novelist, critic and biographer, Margaret Drabble is one of the major literary figures of her generation. This collection shows her to be a leading practitioner of the art of the short story, presenting her complete short fiction for the first time in a single volume, spanning four decades, from 1964 to 2000.
Several of the stories, like The Dower House at Kellynch, are set in Somerset and Dorset and reflect their author's intimate knowledge of the land and flora there, but their settings also range as far as Elba and Cappadocia. Taken as a whole, the stories reflect the social changes of the past forty years, by showing the English at home and abroad. In 'The Gifts of War', peace-protesting students clash with a mother buying a toy for her son, with tragic consequences. An Englishman on honeymoon has a brief but significant epiphany, finding a shared humanity with a Moroccan crowd in 'Hassan's Tower'. Their protagonists are men and women, husbands and lovers, television presenters and housewives, all subtly and precisely captured as products of their time and place. In his introduction, Spanish scholar José Francisco Fernández celebrates the 'pure and simple pleasure to be found in reading these survivalist, questioning, belligerently intense short stories'.