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Sunday, 13 September 2009

Mollie Panter-Downes

I have just discovered this amazing writer. My husband chose her book of short stories as a birthday present forme. It's called Good Evening Mrs Craven and is a selection of wartime stories.

Character is the important thing. She is objective and observant, like the journalist that she was. She is always distanced from her characters and there is no self -indulgence here. There are no first-person narratives. There is a strongly domestic feel and setting, as her characters try to keep going during these difficult years. There is no melodrama or gushing, but plenty of irony and light comedy.

There is realism in these stories, which fits the times so well. War brings a sense of unreality, so her fiction works brilliantly against this backdrop. We are always dealing with the onset or the aftermath of serious events, never with their brutality. There are no bloody scenes. The 'events' are the psychological changes brought about by the anticipation or the after-effects of wartime happenings.

All the pieces are wonderful chunks of home-life and how people reacted, coped, changed and suffered. I love them all and now can't wait to read her peace-time stories too.

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