Monday, 11 November 2013

The Unwanted

Fiction ~ novella / long short story
Published 17th September 1937*
Approx. 21,000 words
(First read 11/11/2013) 

The fourth and last of Benson's 'Old London' quartet and my favourite of the bunch.  It's a day-in-the-life story set in a world EFB was completely familiar with: the genteel microcosmic world of the Edwardian London square ~ think Secret Lives and a lot of the spook stories (and no doubt others I've not read yet).  Miss Dorothy Vincent is 'a short, energetic woman of middle age, of full figure and eager countenance' ~ remind you of anyone?  This classic Bensonian spinster
lives in the fictional Beaconsfield Square with her elderly ~ and unpleasant ~ aunt and her pekinese Chang ('known also as "Strong Mannie"'!)  She fills her own and other people's lives with the usual pastimes ~ walking the dog, pestering the local vicar, visiting, that kind of thing, and considers herself busy.  And, of course, of course, she has no idea how utterly unwanted she is.  It would have been easy for EFB to make a figure of fun of her, but he doesn't: I actually felt for her.  I won't give away the plot other than to say that she rounds off the day with a magnificently risky and utterly uncharacteristic 'adventure'.  Not available online.

* The four Old London books were only ever published in the United States, apparently.

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