stapsreads: 'The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who cannot read them' (Default)
[personal profile] stapsreads
The cover of my edition quotes Virginia Woolf saying, 'I was jealous of her writing - the only writing I have ever been jealous of.' Certainly there's a comparison to make between the three short works here (Prelude, At The Bay, and The Doll's House) and Woolf's stories - delicate, evocative works, deep rather than broad, perceptive yet dispassionate, examining ordinary people in very great detail.

Where I think Mansfield has the edge is her depiction of children. Kezia and Isabel are really very believable, and that's important, because we spend a lot of time inside the former's head - though, flicking back through, I find that it's no more time than we spend with any of the adults, who are convincing in themselves.

This isn't comfort reading. I found some home truths in here, and some of them were not flattering at all. It is, however, worth a read. Or a re-read.

What a glare there was in the room. She hated blinds pulled up to the top at any time, but in the morning it was intolerable. She turned over to the wall and idly, with one finger, she traced a poppy on the wallpaper with a leaf and a stem and a fat bursting bud. In the quiet, and under her tracing finger, the poppy seemed to come alive. She could feel the sticky, silky petals, the stem, hairy like a gooseberry skin, the rough leaf and the tight glazed bud. Things had a habit of coming alive like that. Not only large substantial things like furniture, but curtains and the patterns of stuffs and the fringes of quilts and cushions. How often she had seen the tassel fringe of her quilt change into a funny procession of dancers with priests attending... For there were some tassels that did not dance at all, but walked stately, bent forward as if praying or chanting. How often the medicine bottles had turned into a row of little men with brown top hats on; and the wash-stand jug had a way of sitting in the basin like a fat bird in a round nest.


stapsreads: 'The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who cannot read them' (Default)

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