Reminiscent of Elizabeth von Arnim and Elizabeth Taylor, these 15 recently discovered short stories by the author of The Borrowers are wonderful period pieces about being an upper-middle class woman in the 1940s and early 50s. Many are reminiscent of Brief Encounter with their longings for adventure or romance to break the stifling constraints on their lives. Here are respectable conventional women settled into dull marriages finding themselves entertaining the notion of an affair while on holiday; a dowdy woman who suddenly decides to have her face done and take the GBP1.00 post-office savings and blow it on a fine hat. Then there are funny, satirical pieces: useful knowledge like curing cold feet at bedtime, a sideways look at acting for a television drama and a very entertaining and fascinating piece on Writing for Children which includes dialogue with an editor who wants short words and happy stories. Written with a wry and gentle humour, the collection makes for fascinating reading.
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Mary Norton studied as an actress but gave up the theatre to marry Robert Norton. They lived in Portugal where they had four children. Mary began writing children's novels during the war, along with short stories for women's magazines. THE BORROWERS won the Carnegie Medal in 1952.Review:
Mystery, finely sustained suspense, excellent characterisation, heart rending terror ... all interspersed with humour and beautifully written * Birmingham Post * One of the few really original ideas in children's literature * Books for Keeps * Subtle and quirky * Mail on Sunday * Mary Norton will probably continue to be read when all the authors on this year's Booker short-list have been forgotten * A N WILSON *
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