Uncanny-flecked, strange, and beguiling, the stories in Mrs. Carteret Receives And Other Stories are a pleasure for the reader. Hartley is a strong and skilled writer. His craft is well-displayed in this collection.
Social calamities, embarrassments, gaffes, bad dreams, and misunderstandings are all here tinged with something unusual. And beneath it all, the knowing Hartley Cheshire Cat smile.
Notes and excerpts:
Mrs Carteret Receives • (1971)
Another immaculate Venice story from Hartley. It's no "Podolo," but there's charm, characterization, and growing menace.
Fall in at the Double • (1970)
A haunting begins the day the owner of the house narrowly escapes the same fate that doomed a previous tenant. As always with Hartley, faultless tone and distance.
Paradise Paddock • (1971)
....One thing that he couldn't find a suitable place for was a turquoise-coloured beetle—obviously meant to be Egyptian for it had a cartouche on its back, but too large, he thought, to be a real scarab. He had bought it at an antique shop for a few shillings.
A friend, who had travelled much in the Near East, took a different view.
'One never knows,' he said. 'I don't like the look of it and I should get rid of it, if I were you.'
Roman Charity • (1971)
The most shocking, strange, and disturbing tale in the whole collection. Words cannot begin...
Pains and Pleasures • (1971)
Trouble with the domestic help. And worse, good help being hard to find, the risk of losing it. Blackly funny.
Please Do Not Touch • (1971)
....But though he hadn't much minded the first burglary—indeed he was in bed and asleep when it happened and didn't know about it until the morning—he did mind the second, with its violence and its sequel of nervous shock, not to mention the loss of objects that he treasured; and like the hero of Poe's story, 'The Cask of Amontillado', he vowed revenge.
Home Sweet Home • (1971)
You can't go home again. Your old house has been turned into a home for disturbed children.
The Shadow on the Wall • (1969)
....A house is a hungry beast, and the more its appetite can be kept at bay the better.
12 May 2019