Friday, 30 April 2010

The persimmon tree (Barnard) 190


The final volume of short stories in my week of short story reading is The persimmon tree and other stories by Marjorie Barnard. It's a slim volume, containing over 20 stories, which means the stories are not just short, but somewhat petite, almost sketches rather than anything more developed.

The stories were originally published in 1943 and predominantly centre on women's experiences. We see a small girl go to the ballet for the first time, and have the experience ruined by her companion's determination that she will enjoy it, rather than let her just enjoy it herself. We read about a woman win the lottery and leave her husband. We follow the girl who buys a new dress for an important date, and watch as the dress ruins the date because she is unwilling to get it dirty, and then after getting caught in a rainstorm she is too embarassed to return to have tea with her date's Aunt as planned.

I found the stories extremely enjoyable but couldn't help wondering what a novel by Barnard would be like - would it be as readable? Well, I was interested to note that a VMC which has been languishing on my shelves for a while - Tommorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow (mainly I think because it is somewhat sci-fi, a genre that I shy away from) was written by Majorie Barnard in collaboration with Flora Eldershaw under the name M. Barnard Eldershaw. So given my experiences with these stories perhaps I will be brave enough to get stuck in to Tomorrow... before too long!

It's just been published once by Virago with an original green cover.

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