This morning I finished reading Katherine Mansfield’s The Garden Party and Other Stories and was nicely blown away.
As I said on my quick review on Goodreads, I’d read ‘Miss Brill’ and ‘Life of Ma Parker’ already, once back in high school then again at university. So I knew already that I was reading a book full of subtelties and would probably get a little teary here and there. What I didn’t expect was to find that every single story left me with that feeling (you know the one).
Mansfield crafted every story so carefully that each character grabbed me within a few sentences, and I was attached to them. I cared whether the teacher’s fiancee was really breaking off their engagement and I cared whether Miss Brill got her almond and I cared about the married woman who had a man die in her arms.
While I was reading I was trying to work out how Mansfield was doing what she was doing; how she was wielding the short story into such an amazing form. It’s never gripped me so much in all my life. Never before have I read a book of short stories and thought fleetingly to myself:
All I want to do is write short stories. I want to do this and nothing else
which of course isn’t entirely true, but that’s how she made me feel.
I can’t pin-point exactly what it is that makes Mansfield’s stories so incredible. I just recommend that everyone read them at some point. I feel like they taught me a lot, even if I’m not sure what that is. But it’s somewhere in the back of my mind now. And I hope whatever it is will show through in my own stories, and that they’ll be even half as good as the amazing Katherine Mansfield’s.