Wednesday, December 12, 2007
The People on Privilege Hill
I'm starting to fall in love with collections of short stories again, especially when they are as good as Jane Gardam's The People on Privilege Hill. This is one of those little gems of a read that I always love to blog (and pester people) about. Her stories are concise and witty and completely to the point. I never feel there is a superfluous word in any of them nor am I ever hankering for more of a back story. If there's a theme to these, it's about growing older with all the regrets and foolishness, that comes with it. My favourite is a story called "Babette" about a forgotten novelist, a Times Literary Supplement reviewer and a bathtub. I can say no more but it just made me howl with laugher. As did "Snap" about a woman who breaks her ankle while cheating on her husband. For fans of Gardam's wonderful last novel, Old Filth, (one of my Dewey picks from a few seasons back), you'll be glad to encounter the main character again in the title short story which is also alluded to by the cover illustration. Oh, it's just a charming collection, beautifully packaged. It's going to be hard to find in any chain bookstore, but go into your local independent and ask them to special order it for you. Or your local library. I'm thrilled to notice that there are already lots of holds on it at the Toronto Public Library.