Skip to main content

Review: Minnie's Room, by Mollie Panter-Downes


Pages: 125
Original date of publication:
My edition: 2008
Why I decided to read:
How I acquired my copy: October 2011, Persephone subscription

In Minnie’s Room, a collection of 11 stories published between 1947 and 1965, Mollie Panter-Downes explores some of the same themes she explores in her novel, One Fine Day. In the 1940s and beyond, people were struggling to adapt to their new circumstances, because things were, indeed, dire (for example, as the introduction to this book says, “bread had been newly rationed in 1946”). It was rough going for everyone, especially the middle classes, who were hit especially hard by the imposition of increased income tax to deal with postwar shortages. So the stories in this collection reflect on a small scale the larger issues that were going on in England and the world at that time.

Although there is no immediate theme to this collection, her stories are all about people dealing with the aftermath of WWII and the effect it had on ordinary people. So although these characters don’t seem to have a lot in common in the surface, they all deal with the same kinds of larger issues. The stories deal with a variety of characters in varying situations. In the titular “Minnie’s Room, “a middle-aged live-in cook threatens to leave and find a place of her own; in “Beside the Still Waters,” a middle-aged woman returns to her ill mother’s bedside, only to come face to face with her siblings, with whom she has nothing in common; in “What Are the Wild Waves Saying?” a girl on a seaside holiday gets her first, outside glimpse of romance.

All the stories deal with change in some way and the ways in which various people cope with it. As the author got father away from the war, you start to see a shift in the stories away from the war, which makes this collection less of a cohesive unit than the stories collected in Good Evening, Mrs. Craven. As such, I didn’t enjoy this collection quite as much, but I thought the author had some interesting things to say about the passage of time. However, although I’m not a huge fan of the short story, I’ve always enjoyed the collections that Persephone reprints.

This is Persephone no. 34.


Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Review: Invitation to the Waltz, by Rosamond Lehmann

Pages: 304Original date of publication: 1931My edition: Why I decided to read: I found this while looking on ebay for Virago Modern ClassicsHow I acquired my copy: bought secondhand on ebayInvitation to the Waltz is one of those coming-of-age-stories. Unlike, for example, The Crowded Street, which focuses on a young woman’s entire coming-of-age experience, Invitation to the Waltz focuses on just one moment in seventeen-year-old Olivia Curtis’s life: a coming-out ball, the seminal moment in the life of any girl of the period (approximately the 1920s). Olivia is neither the most beautiful nor the most vivacious girl at the party, and she’s apprehensive about the evening and all it entails. This is not one of those “high action” books, but it gives a lot of insight into the thoughts and feelings of a girl making the leap into adulthood. I think if I had read this book ten years ago, I would have completely identified with Olivia—she’s shy and retiring, and unsure of herself. Her dress is…

The Sunday Salon

What a crazy week this has been! My cousin, who’s ten, was in town for most of this past week, and since he’s high energy, it’s taken a lot of energy especially out of my mom, who also had to deal with my 87-year-old grandmother. Plus. my sister was in town for the weekend, so it’s been mostly crazy around here. All of my posts this past week have been scheduled; and I only got around to writing a bunch of outstanding reviews yesterday afternoon. It’s quieter here now that my mom has driven my sister back to New York, and I’ve spent much of today catching up on sleep and, of course, reading. Right now I’m reading one of my Virago Modern Classics: The Rising Tide, by Molly Keane (though it was originally published under her pseudonym MJ Farrell). I’m really loving it; the author really knew how to combine wonderful (sometimes exasperating) characters with a great plot. I’ve been cruising Ebay for more books by Molly Keane, since I’m living her writing style. This is easily one of the b…

Read in 2014

January:
1. Outlander, by Diana Gabaldon
2. The Complete Guide to Asperger's Syndrome, by Tony Attwood
3. Mozart and the Whale, by Mary and Jerry Newport
4. Handling the Truth, by Beth Kephart
5. Girl, Interrupted, by Susanna Kaysen
6. The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath
7. Them, by Joyce Carol Oates
8. Wide Sargasso Sea, by Jean Rhys

February:
1. Random Family, by Adrian Nicole LeBlanc
2. I Was Told There'd Be Cake, by Sloane Crosley
3. The Bell Jar, by Sylvia Plath
4. Twilight Sleep, by Edith Wharton
5. Twirling Naked in the Streets, by Jeannie Davide-Rivera
6. Hungry Hill, by Daphne Du Maurier
7. Me, Myself, and Why, by Jennifer Ouilette
8. Lady Chatterley's Lover, by DH Lawrence
9. The Wise Virgins, by Leonard Woolf

March:
1. Out With It, by Katherine Preston
2. Never Have I Ever, by Katie Heaney
3. Look me in the Eye, by John Elder Robison
4. Beyond, the Glass, by Antonia White
5. Atypical, by Jesse Saperstein
6. The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox, by Maggie O'Far…