You are still there in everything I do, watching over me, looking down on me. Sitting beside you on the drawing-room sofa, with Edie on your other side, I hear your deep clear voice above us, your breath ruffling the hair on the top of my head if you turn towards me, and I watch your long hands turn the pages, your rings sparkling in the yellow light.
Set in England, these are stories that explore the basic nature of friendship: how friendships are formed and deepened, how they can be betrayed and lost. There are friendships between children, married couples, sisters, women, and between grandparents and grandchildren. Throughout, these friendships are tested, coming up against outside forces and internal conflicts that alter or destroy them.
A dying woman recalls her sexual awakening and the several betrayals that followed, though she is no longer able to speak words of truth to her betrayers; a young girl loses her closeness to both her twin sister and her imagination as she approaches puberty; in “The Outing” Elsie comes to terms with the death of her husband during a day trip to a stately home with her friend Vera. “White Sandals” reveals two seminal episodes in the boyhood of a man grown solitary and misanthropic. Jackson approaches these and other stories with uncompromising social insight and sharp narrative turns, yet the drama is tempered by strong doses of humor and irony. These are quiet stories that creep up on the reader and remain lodged in the mind.