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The Complete Fiction by Francis Wyndham
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The Complete Fiction

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The Complete Fiction by Francis Wyndham
Paperback $16.95
May 05, 2009 | ISBN 9781590173121

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  • May 05, 2009 | ISBN 9781590173121

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"The Complete Fiction of Francis Wyndham, which also includes the 1985 Mrs. Henderson and Other Stories and the 1987 novella The Other Garden, is a collection of beguiling consistency." —The Boston Phoenix

"One of the great authors of the 20th century…He has been compared to Jane Austen, Henry James and P.G. Wodehouse – he is as satirical as the first, as dry as the second and as funny (well, not quite) as the third. Like them, his topic is the British bourgeoisie, but his era touches our own, and his lodestone is World War II…it is the author’s most recent writings – ‘Mrs. Henderson and Other Stories’ – that are shocking and beautiful in their pitch-perfect evocation of an era only just lost, an era that still echoes." –Newsday

"Wyndham, a legend in contemporary English letters, is pretty much unknown here. As an editor, he mentored Bruce Chatwin and V.S. Naipaul and rediscovered Jean Rhys. As a writer, he has published little — only three books in 40 years, but this is fiction of outstanding quality, short stories on the whole, posed somewhere between Henry James and Jane Austen." —Los Angeles Times

"The earliest stories were written in the 1940s when Wyndham was invalided out of the war, and give us an odd, sideways but utterly convincing glimpse into a lost world. " –Esther Freud

"Beautifully written, full of emotional honesty, these are stories to savour, and reread." —The Times (London)

"Wyndham’s prose has an almost luminous clarity of expression, and he is excellent at capturing not just the detail but the mood of a particular period." —Times Literary Supplement

"Exceptionally accomplished…a writer who never wastes a word or puts one wrong…He belongs in a tradition of social comedy going back through Henry James to Jane Austen." –Alan Hollinghurst

“Winner of England’s Whitbread Prize for best first novel of 1987, this clear, spare volume brings us, at the outbreak of World War II, into the lives of the teenage narrator and Kay, his 30-ish friend of offhand behavior, laconic speech and deliberately shabby clothes. Kay, like the "other garden" near the narrator’s house, is an attractive combination of the cozy and the strange. In this small English village, she and the narrator are passive rebels against conformity. We follow their intertwined stories throughout the war: Kay works in a local canteen and has a brief, devastating affair with an American G.I.; the narrator recuperates from a broken ankle after only three months as an army private; a homosexual Oxford friend goes off to a sanitarium to recover from TB (soon to be joined there by Kay, also suffering from the disease). For reasons never made entirely clear, Kay’s parents, with whom she lives, reject and scorn her, until she is forced because she adopts a dog who becomes the center of her life to move away to a difficult existence in blitz-beleaguered London. Wyndham uses quiet, evocative prose to render a poignant story.” –Publishers Weekly

“In southern England at the outbreak of World War II, the young narrator forms a friendship with Kay, a woman nearly 20 years his senior. The friendship survives for several years, during which the narrator leaves home to attend Oxford, escaping military service through illness. Meanwhile, Kaya spirited, unusual, but unhappy woman takes up with an American serviceman, moves from job to job, falls ill with tuberculosis. In this short novel, winner of England’s Whitbread prize in 1987, there are no sensational events, but ordinary lives are made interesting by Wyndham’s lucid, penetrating, and effortless prose. An intelligent, civilized novel for readers who know how to enjoy quiet pleasures.” –Library Journal

"Wyndham gently evokes lives in limbo, narrators who live vicariously through film and other fantasies, and who pass years in futile but pleasurable longing. Set mostly around the Second World War, these elegiac social comedies describe the perverse satisfactions of unorthodox friendships, sibling love and middle-class Englishness." —The Evening Standard (London)

"Its evocation of the last war seen from the point of view of a film-obsessed adolescent is irresistible for anyone of my generation, but beyond that its characters, firmly set in time and class, have all the poignancy of old photographs rediscovered in a drawer." –George Melly, The Guardian

"A quintessential little English novel" –The Chicago Sun-Times

"War changes the fate of nations and of individuals. Once in a while, a work of fiction captures such changes to perfection. In The Other Garden, Francis Wyndham distills into a bare 100 pages a story of how World War II transformed the lives of one English family…In portraying a life destroyed by a rigid system of values, Wyndham holds up a mirror to British society in the years of declining Empire, with its unbridgeable divided between humbug and sensitivity….Impeccably written, elegantly constructed, it is at once delightful to read and profound in its implications–a minor masterpiece." –The Sun Herald (Australia)

"Short and intriguing…the book succeeds wonderfully in capturing the period feel of a community riddled with suspicion and prejudice…The Other Garden is sustained by a style of prose now far from common in the contemporary novel: it enjoys both balance and lightness, and an elegance that is not at all sleek. The dialogue is impeccable, managing verisimilitude without bending exactly to parody…this novel has all the hallmarks of something taken from life." –The Sunday Times (London)

"Friend and confident of Bruce Chatwin, Jean Rhys, VS Naipaul and Bruce Chatwin, Francis Wyndham has moved in English literature’s most exalted circles. Now his own deliciously precise and funny writings are being republished." –The Guardian

“Mr. Wyndham conjures a lost world in the kind of prose that is almost a lost art. This is a novel of loss, so completely rendered that it overcomes the boundaries of period and place, ending on a note of self-knowledge no less terrible for being quiet.” –The New York Times Book Review

“Literary fads may come and go, but the little English novel always seems to be, if not in fashion, at least in the best of taste. Quiet, precisely staged, full of understated insight, it isn’t easy to define, although it has a fondness for manners, morals and memories. But it seems to be instantly recognizable. In 1987, Francis Wyndham won Britain’s Whitbread Prize for a quintessential little English novel called The Other Garden.” –The Chicago Sun-Times

“Here is a singular, particular, gentle, biting, vastly entertaining, original writer.” –Harpers & Queen

“Francis Wyndham’s great talents seem ideally suited to storiesÉa brilliant yoking of cleverness and emotion.” –Literary Review

“Francis Wyndham’s The Other Garden comes as close to perfection as you’ll get in an imperfect world.” –Guardian (London)

“This small compact novel, so swiftly paced, is a gem.” –Times Literary Supplement

“The Other Garden by Francis Wyndham won England’s Whitbread Prize for the best first novel of the year. It is not difficult to see why. In just 106 pages, Mr. Wyndham conjures a lost world in the kind of prose that is almost a lost art.” –The New York Times

“Éa quintessential little English novelÉwhich introduces readers to the bitter-sweet friendship between a teenage boy and an eccentric 30-ish spinster in a country village during World War II.” –The Philadelphia Inquirer

“Éhe brings to his work an eye for the absolutely essential and a haunting sense of what lives are made up of–not the peaks and troughs that are the predictable terrain of the novelist but the more elusive continuities and absenses, ephemeral obsessions, a sense of permanently deferred expectation and hilarious consequences.” –Interview

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