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Thursday, 15 January 2009

Short stories

I finished an excellent collection of short stories yesterday - The Sixpenny Debt and Other Oxford Stories. As might be deduced from the title the theme linking these otherwise disparate stories is the city of Oxford. There are tortoises running shops in Turl street, Medieval servants at the university, crimes which have already happened and those yet to come as well as people reminiscing about their past indiscretions. All the stories are excellent and enjoyable in their own ways, but my particular favourites are 'I Love You, Mr Chicken' and 'The Tortoises of Turl Street'. The first is about an elderly lady recalling her past and her favourite grocer in the 1950s and the second about the tortoises and how if they quarrel they may end up estranged for years, because everything moves slowly for them.

I've nearly finished reading The Importance of Being Emma by Juliet Archer - the modern day interpretation of Emma. This is an excellent sparkling story. I was put off when I first started because it is narrated alternately by Emma and Mr Knightley - in very short sections some less than a page. I seem to have read a lot of books with multiple narrators recently and my first reaction was oh no not another one, but I got used to it very quickly. It is very true to the spirit of the original showing how universal Jane Austen's characters are.

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