Thommy Ford Reads

A blog by the staff of the Thomas Ford Memorial Library

“Miss Brill” by Katherine Mansfield

saturday-shortsSaturday Shorts Week 5
Welcome to our new weekend series for 2014. 
Every Saturday this year one of our staff will suggest a favorite short story from the library’s collection, all of them a great choice for quick weekend reading.

Oh, how fascinating it was! How she enjoyed it! How she loved sitting here, watching it all! It was like a play. It was exactly like a play. Who could believe the sky at the back wasn’t painted?


Katherine Mansfield (1888-1923)
“The only writing I have ever been jealous of.”—Virginia Woolf

Maybe there’s something a little cliché about this particular short character study by Katherine Mansfield. It puts us into the mind of a lonely woman whiling her time away on a park bench. Don’t let the obviousness of that situation discourage you though. It’s some of Katherine Mansfield’s finest writing.

“Miss Brill” builds itself up in impressionistic layers—there’s poetic evocations of a park in Autumn, Ms. Brill’s reflections and hopes, her people watching, cutesy descriptions of the music coming from a bandshell orchestra, snippets of overheard conversation. It’s full of affecting little touches and it all washes over us in a rather beautiful, hopeful way. It’s so well done that when, in the last paragraphs, Ms. Brill overhears a small act of meanness, it’s devastating, almost heartbreaking.

Stop by and check it out, and if you like it try some of Mansfield’s longer stories like “The Garden Party” or “The Daughters of the Late Colonel.” They’re all collected in The Short Stories of Katherine Mansfield (FIC MANSFIELD).

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This entry was posted on February 1, 2014 by in Fiction, Saturday Shorts, Short Stories.
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