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The Garden Party and Other Stories by…
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The Garden Party and Other Stories (1922)

by Katherine Mansfield

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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English (28)  Piratical (1)  French (1)  All languages (30)
Showing 1-5 of 28 (next | show all)
My awesome niece, Becca, a Wellesley grad who majored in English, seemed to think I should read some Katherine Mansfield. I was interested anyway because it seems that Mansfield had influenced both Willa Cather and Sarah Orne Jewitt, two women authors of whom I've become rather fond in my declining years. So anyway, I picked up this book (well downloaded it to my kindle) and am glad I did.

This is a collection of fifteen stories, some quite short. The first one, At the Bay is rather longer and probably counts as a novelette (7500–17,500 words).

Many of the stories seem rather like pictures in words. Pictures of an instant in time in someone's life or some family's life. The picture might be an hour, an afternoon, or a day. The writing and imagery are imaginative and arresting. I can now see why Becca thought I should expand myself a bit.
( )
  lgpiper | Jun 21, 2019 |
"Garden Party" illustrates many themes: wealth versus poverty, insensitivity versus compassion, death versus life.
Wealthy Mrs. Sheridan has been preparing for an elaborate garden party with flowers and tents, food and music. Servants and gardeners and workers toil like busy bees here, there, and everywhere setting up chairs, organizing the musicians, placing the flowers just so. The excitement catches with her four children, too. But when a terrible accident leaves a man dead right outside their gates daughter Laura doesn't thinks it's appropriate for the show to go on. She questions the sensitivity of their actions. Later Mrs. Sheridan allows Laura to bring a basket of food to the dead man's family. Walking through the poor neighborhood gives Laura a new perspective and in the face of mortality she learns about living. ( )
  SeriousGrace | Jun 10, 2019 |
My favourite Mansfield story prototype is the situational character study where I am privy to a character's innermost thoughts as they re/live an experience in which they play a non-primary role. I love that juxtaposition of the rich, complex (occasionally bitter!) inner life - of turmoils and uncertainties and jealousies and heartbreaks - underlying the seemingly superficially-passive, outwardly-composed observer. She is so so so good at introducing what looks to be a simple scene (a music lesson, or a cleaning woman cleaning, for example) but is actually a complex character history or relationship portrait. A study in contrasts done to excellent effect and an excellent example of showing-not-telling.

Favourite stories: The Daughters of the Late Colonel. I loved that mixture of grief and relief to be free from a controlling patriarch. Also, spinster sisters as fictional characters are treasure troves. They have this inbuilt psychological depth to them that immediately tells you all about their complex history of interpersonal relationships, without having to delve into the details. I also loved Marriage à la Mode and The Singing Lesson. How relationships work is truly a mystery, they are so fragile and depend on enormous leaps of faith: frightening to be reminded of the way discontent can accumulate subtly over years, slowly rotting a relationship beneath the surface, and that you never truly know what the other person is thinking or feeling.

Unengaged with: the Burnells in Prelude and At the Bay. Apparently these stories, among with some others, were meant to form part of a novel. Perhaps they would work better as a novel but as short stories, they left me cold. I hardly connected with the characters and just couldn't interest myself in most of their lives. There were still flashes of potential hooks to reel me in but alas I remained uninterested.

Very good to reread: The Garden Party.

Cover note: I want to know the person who chose the cover for this book because what a wacky sense of humour? The painting on the cover is Interior with Housemaid by Vanessa Bell, whose sister Virginia Woolf wrote this in her diary about Mansfield: "I was jealous of her writing - the only writing I have ever been jealous of." So, make of that what you will.

Reading note: Mansfield stories are even better upon immediate rereads.

Edition note: Turns out the Everyman edition is more of a Collected Stories rather than THE Garden Party. There are some stories that overlap with this edition so I switched to this one instead. ( )
  kitzyl | Oct 21, 2018 |
I was bored and couldn't get into the story at all. It seemed totally pointless. Overly descriptive with nothing actually happening. ( )
  lydiasbooks | Jan 17, 2018 |
The Garden Party - like Bliss - is dominated by an extended story drawn from the author's childhood, in this case "At the bay", where the family we met in "Prelude" are staying in a summer-house by the sea, and once again we discover mostly through indirect signs - the plants, the beach, the play of the children - the invisible rifts that run between the members of the apparently harmonious family group.

The title-story is one of Mansfield's most anthologised stories, so you'll have read it twenty years ago and answered exam questions on Mansfield's death-imagery, but it's worth coming back to. It seems to have just about everything - endless quantities of plants, a significant piece of music, failures of communication within a bourgeois family, incomprehension between rich and poor, the well-intentioned action that is undermined by its initiator's realisation that she's being patronising. But it never reads like just a text for an Eng Lit paper: it's a story you can't help engaging with emotionally.

There are plenty more gems in this collection as well: "The singing lesson" is a miracle of construction, which works despite the fact that you can almost see the gears turning to keep it going; "Miss Brill" and "The Lady's Maid" are both beautiful examples of texts where the reader has to create the story despite the narrator. And I don't see how anyone can fail to enjoy "The Voyage" or "Her First Ball". ( )
1 vote thorold | Dec 14, 2017 |
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» Add other authors (19 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Mansfield, KatherineAuthorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Standring, HeatherIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Williams, W.E.Introductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Woolf, VirginiaForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Montaigne dit que les hommes vont beant aux choses futures: j'ai la manie de beer aux choses passees.
Dedication
TO JOHN MIDDLETON MURRY
First words
Very early morning.
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Disambiguation notice
This is a collection of 15 short stories (see description for exact titles). Please do not combine with other collections unless they contain the same titles. Note that the Everyman's edition has different stories and should not be combined into this work.
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Book description
Contents: At the Bay
The Garden Party
The Daughters of the Late Colonel
Mr and Mrs Dove
The Young Girl
Life of Ma Parker
Marriage à la Mode
The Voyage
Miss Brill
Her First Ball
The Singing Lesson
The Stranger
Bank Holiday
An Ideal Family
The Lady's Maid
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0140188800, Paperback)

Virginia Woolf once described Katherine Mansfield as "of the cat kind, alien, composed, always solitary & observant." All of these qualities are on display in Mansfield's writing, as well; hers are lonely tales of missed connections, inchoate longings, and complicated emotions within the context of a rigidly defined social setting. 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. --Alix Wilber

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:13:57 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

Innovative, startlingly perceptive and aglow with colour, these fifteen stories were written towards the end of Katherine Mansfield's tragically short life. Many are set in the author's native New Zealand, others in England and the French Riviera. All are revelations of the unspoken, half-understood emotions that make up everyday experience - from the blackly comic 'The Daughters of the Late Colonel', and the short, sharp sketch 'Miss Brill', in which a lonely woman's precarious sense of self is brutally destroyed, to the vivid impressionistic evocation of family life in 'At the Bay'. 'All that I write,' Mansfield said, 'all that I am - is on the borders of the sea. It is a kind of playing.'… (more)

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Penguin Australia

An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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