After Betty died, Old Filth took everything from her jewel box and distributed it. He was leaving all his money to the Barristers' Benevolent Association, he said, because nobody felt much benevolence towards barristers.
Author: Jane Gardam
Publisher: Hachette UK
Throughout her career, prize-winning novelist Jane Gardam has been writing glorious short stories, each one hallmarked with all the originality, poignancy, wry comedy and narrative brilliance of her longer fiction. Passion and longing, metamorphosis and enchantment are Gardam's themes, and like a magician she plucks them from the quietest of corners: from Wimbledon gardens and cold churches, from London buses and industrial backstreets. A mother watching her children on the beach dreams of a long-lost lover, an abandoned army wife sees a ghost at a moorland gate, a translator adrift in Geneva is haunted by the unspeakable manifestation of her own fears, and a colonial servant wreaks a delicious revenge on her monstrous masters. Gardam's cast is wide and wonderful, saints and mystics, trollops and curmudgeons, yearning mothers and lost children, beloved figures such as Old Filth and less familiar - but equally unforgettable - characters like Signor Settimo, the sad-eyed provincial photographer marooned in Shipley or Florrie Ironside, the ferocious matron he seduces. With a mischievous ear for dialogue, a glittering eye for detail and a capacious understanding of the vagaries of the human heart, Jane Gardam's stories will captivate, sadden and delight.