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The Complete Fiction

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In his more than eighty years, Francis Wyndham has published very little—one novella and two collections of stories—but his is one of the most individual and compelling bodies of work by a contemporary English writer. As Alan Hollinghurst has said, Wyndham’s fiction stands in the tradition of social comedy that goes back through Henry James to Jane Austen, with this differ In his more than eighty years, Francis Wyndham has published very little—one novella and two collections of stories—but his is one of the most individual and compelling bodies of work by a contemporary English writer. As Alan Hollinghurst has said, Wyndham’s fiction stands in the tradition of social comedy that goes back through Henry James to Jane Austen, with this difference: Wyndham writes about the lives of privileged and even titled people, but he is drawn to outcasts and odd ducks, adolescents, lonely women, addicts, eccentrics, and idlers. The earliest stories here, gathered under the title Out of the War, are brilliant vignettes of deprivation and desire written during World War II. The later Mrs Henderson and Other Stories, by contrast, offers scrupulously observed tragicomic pictures of the vagaries of upper-class English family life. Finally, in the Whitbread Prize–winning short novel The Other Garden, a shy teenage boy living in the country strikes up an unlikely friendship with Kay, the thirty-something daughter of neighbors, sister to a famous actor, and black sheep of her family. Kay, with her whims and crazes and boyfriends, is unable to hold her own against her family’s disapproval, and the narrator watches with helpless fascination as her small but very real tragedy is played out against the background of the Second World War.


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In his more than eighty years, Francis Wyndham has published very little—one novella and two collections of stories—but his is one of the most individual and compelling bodies of work by a contemporary English writer. As Alan Hollinghurst has said, Wyndham’s fiction stands in the tradition of social comedy that goes back through Henry James to Jane Austen, with this differ In his more than eighty years, Francis Wyndham has published very little—one novella and two collections of stories—but his is one of the most individual and compelling bodies of work by a contemporary English writer. As Alan Hollinghurst has said, Wyndham’s fiction stands in the tradition of social comedy that goes back through Henry James to Jane Austen, with this difference: Wyndham writes about the lives of privileged and even titled people, but he is drawn to outcasts and odd ducks, adolescents, lonely women, addicts, eccentrics, and idlers. The earliest stories here, gathered under the title Out of the War, are brilliant vignettes of deprivation and desire written during World War II. The later Mrs Henderson and Other Stories, by contrast, offers scrupulously observed tragicomic pictures of the vagaries of upper-class English family life. Finally, in the Whitbread Prize–winning short novel The Other Garden, a shy teenage boy living in the country strikes up an unlikely friendship with Kay, the thirty-something daughter of neighbors, sister to a famous actor, and black sheep of her family. Kay, with her whims and crazes and boyfriends, is unable to hold her own against her family’s disapproval, and the narrator watches with helpless fascination as her small but very real tragedy is played out against the background of the Second World War.

49 review for The Complete Fiction

  1. 4 out of 5

    Lawrence

    Sometimes sad but always delicious.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Genevieve

    Took so long to get into this but it was distinctive and excellent once I did.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Jayaprakash Satyamurthy

    Stories about more or less ordinary people living around the peripheries of the two world wars. Subtle stories, well-observed and not without their own quirks. The later collection of short stories, MRS HENDERSON AND OTHER STORIES and the novella THE OTHER GARDEN are solid gold; the earlier short stories, OUT OF THE WAR are not all equally good, but very much of a piece with the later works in overall tone and emphasis. The later short story collection shows a far wider range, encompassing picar Stories about more or less ordinary people living around the peripheries of the two world wars. Subtle stories, well-observed and not without their own quirks. The later collection of short stories, MRS HENDERSON AND OTHER STORIES and the novella THE OTHER GARDEN are solid gold; the earlier short stories, OUT OF THE WAR are not all equally good, but very much of a piece with the later works in overall tone and emphasis. The later short story collection shows a far wider range, encompassing picaresque, tenderness and in one brilliant instance, the fantastic. Both later pieces compare well with Isherwood's Berlin novels which overlap with these in a number of ways.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Bette

    I usually don't enjoy short stories that much, since just as I'm settling in and getting to know the characters, the story ends. I never felt that way about the stories in this collection, for two reasons: first, my interest was immediately piqued by the first page of each story, and second, the characters often reappear in other stories, so the feeling of "I wonder what happened after that" is diminished. Wyndham's portrayal of complicated, quirky, and often lonely women is quite sympathetic.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Tanja

    This is a beautiful collection of stories. Some are absolute knockouts. 'The Other Garden' is heartbreakingly beautiful. I really liked 'The Half Brother' as well. A number of the stories are interconnected, through people, events and villages. I still felt like I could have read more about the characters. I wanted to know how it all played out.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Lauren

    More great stuff from NYRB.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Nathan

  8. 5 out of 5

    Andrew

  9. 4 out of 5

    James Creamer

  10. 4 out of 5

    Brittany Marie

  11. 5 out of 5

    Ozen

  12. 5 out of 5

    TheDarkSide

  13. 5 out of 5

    Scoutaccount

  14. 4 out of 5

    Miss Antelope

  15. 4 out of 5

    Frank

    Nice phrases and passages here and there, but not much more. Minor writing par excellence.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Kelly

  17. 4 out of 5

    Meg

  18. 5 out of 5

    Patricia

  19. 4 out of 5

    Henry Giardina

  20. 5 out of 5

    Andrew

  21. 5 out of 5

    K

  22. 4 out of 5

    Julian

  23. 5 out of 5

    Ian

  24. 5 out of 5

    Marten Weber

  25. 4 out of 5

    NULLAND

  26. 5 out of 5

    Kit Fox

  27. 4 out of 5

    Adam

  28. 5 out of 5

    Robert Laurie

  29. 4 out of 5

    New York Review Books

  30. 4 out of 5

    Bill

  31. 5 out of 5

    Natasha

  32. 5 out of 5

    Carolyn

  33. 5 out of 5

    Buck

  34. 5 out of 5

    Michaela

  35. 5 out of 5

    Annie

  36. 4 out of 5

    Beamish13

  37. 4 out of 5

    abcdefg

  38. 4 out of 5

    Christina

  39. 4 out of 5

    destanie

  40. 5 out of 5

    Michele Malmstrom

  41. 4 out of 5

    Malcolm

  42. 5 out of 5

    Michelle Hoogterp

  43. 4 out of 5

    Jacob

  44. 4 out of 5

    Jur

  45. 5 out of 5

    izaiahdb.

  46. 5 out of 5

    Nishant

  47. 5 out of 5

    A Lauren

  48. 5 out of 5

    Ryan

  49. 4 out of 5

    Andrew Schirmer

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