Saturday, October 29

Book Reviews: The Garden Party and Other Stories

Title: The Garden Party and Other Stories

Author: Katherine Mansfield

Pages: Ebook (Approx 132 pages)

Summary: Born in New Zealand, Mansfield set many of her stories there, even though she emigrated to England in 1908 at age 19, never to return. Her characters are almost invariably middle-class, the daughters, sweethearts, wives, and widows of office clerks, military men, businessmen. In "At the Bay," for example, Mansfield focuses on the Burnell family as they take their summer vacation at the beach. Not content to follow just one character through the story, she drifts in and out of the consciousness of half a dozen, from the family cat to Stanley and Linda Burnell, their children, Linda's sister, Beryl and their in-laws, the Trouts. Dipping into Linda's thoughts, for example, we learn that she loves her husband--"not the Stanley whom everyone saw, not the everyday one; but a timid, sensitive, innocent Stanley who knelt down every night to say his prayers and who longed to be good." Unfortunately for Linda, "she saw her Stanley so seldom." Mansfield then swoops into the mind of Stanley's brother-in-law, Jonathan Trout, who is discontented with his life but knows he hasn't the will to change it, and then on to Beryl, whose longing for "someone who will find the Beryl they none of them know" leads her into a rash action. In the title story, Mansfield concentrates on young Laura Sheridan on the afternoon of her family's garden party. The story follows the family through the preparations--flags to identify the different sandwiches, the delivery of cream puffs, the setting up of a marquee on the lawn. This perfect idyll is broken, however, by news of a fatal accident down the lane. A young workman has been killed, leaving a wife and five children. Into Laura's perfect Eden, death comes whispering and her reaction to it is both subtle and surprising. In fact, many of Mansfield's stories feature young women on the brink of adulthood--facing, for the first time, the realities of their constricted lives. Love is a trap; childbearing is another; death can be "simply marvellous." Mansfield died in 1923 of tuberculosis, leaving behind a body of work that is as bold, unconventional, and modern as she was. The Garden Party and Other Stories is a fitting epitaph

- At the Bay
- The Garden Party
- The Daughter of the Late Colonel
- Mr. and Mrs. Dove
- The Young Girl
- Life of Mia Parker
- Marriage a La Mode
- The Voyage
- Miss Brill
- Her First Ball
- The Singing Lesson
- The Stranger
- Bank Holiday
- An Ideal Family
- The Lady's Maid

My Rating: 7.5/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: The prose of the collection was wonderful, the author was a very talented author, elegant writing, beautiful descriptions, and well told stories, the author was a very talented short story writer. I may not have enjoyed all the short stories, and they aren't the most engaging, but the author is a wonderful writer, who can create a full sketched out short story - even in just a few pages. \

The stories cover a wide variety of things, such as coming of age, love and loss to name a few. I appreciate what the covered, but some of them just didn't interest me. What kept me reading was her writing style. I had trouble putting down the book just based on her writing. Similar to Virgina Woolf's, it was simply beautiful. Some of my favourite short stories was At the Bay - the descriptions were lovely and The Garden Party.

Would I recommend it to read: I would, especially for those who enjoy early 20th century writing and fans of Virginia Woolf.

What to read next: Anything by Virginia Woolf

Challenges: 100+ Reading Challenge, 1001 Books, A - Z Challenge, Global Reading Challenge


  1. I'm reading this right now! I was very confused by the first story, but really enjoyed The Garden Party. I think her characters are so sensitive, I just want to hug them all.

  2. I hadn't heard of this book before, but I am a big fan of elegant and beautiful writing, so I think I need to check this one out. Great review on the book, Jules!

  3. Aarti - My favourite part of the first story was the descriptiveness of the scenery. The author did do a fantastic job at creating her characters - full of flaws and emotions, makes them very realistic.

    Zibilee - I found the book when I was looking for a book for the Global challenge. Go random picking! I hope you get a chance to read the book