GOOD EVENING, MRS.CRAVEN: THE WARTIME STORIES OF MOLLIE PANTER-DOWNES
An exquisite book of short stories written from 1939-1944 for The New Yorker by Panter-Downes, who also wrote fortnightly Letters from London from 1939-84. Unlike most NYer stories of today, these are witty, poignant and understandable. (I do like some contemporary NYer stories but many still leave me cold.) The first half are quite funny, even light-hearted, although with the shadow of war and possible invasion ever close. The later stories are more sober, though never without wit. The last set on D Day is extremely touching. The stories chronicle the changes in society, particularly the class structure, that started with the first war and now are being accelerated with the realization that English life will never be the same even after victory. Some welcome this change, and some mourn it (and often the mourners are those from the servant rather than the master class). Her dry humor is a delight, for instance, this from the first story about the meeting of two former lovers: "She felt that age had withered and custom staled Gerald's infinite variety considerably, and she improvised an early appointment at the hairdresser's." I am now interested in finding whatever of her other writings are still in print!
Available from the virtual catalogue