Fifteen short stories from the 1940s, all of which I really enjoyed. The faithless mother abandoning her children...the title story of a strong woman, keeping her family going through her craft....There are a couple that keep you on tenterhooks, expecting a dreadful conclusion...And a couple of extremely funny ones, notably 'The Splash', where a young storm-trooper meets up with the author at a swimming pool and proves he is of 'the finest race of all' on the diving board... I normally read short stories one a day, in conjunction with a novel, but this was unputdownable.
Sharp without being bitter, these short stories have an edge that makes it difficult to stop at just one. Though Gardner writes about a woman's world, and from the perspective of women, her characters are not the wide-eyed young ingenues one might expect from titles such as 'Summer with the Baron'. Instead these women often behave badly, and Gardner makes no apologies for them.
I particularly enjoyed the fantastically 40s names of Gardner's characters. Beryls and Millicents rub shoulders with Margots and Mabels, Ralphs and Arthurs, and all feel the shadow of war creep up on them.