Page 6, 4th April 1980

4th April 1980
Page 6
Page 6, 4th April 1980 — Voluminous fair sex

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Voluminous fair sex

Women Writing edited by Denys Val Baker. (Sidgwick & Jackson £5.95) ANY anthology offers pleasing prospects. One can dip in, like a 1 9 t h century Bible fundamentalist, and find something interesting. Denys Val Baker, himself a writer and editor of long established reputation, has now published Women Writing — the third in a collection of stories by leading women writers of today. The editor has picked a story from each of twelve authors some well known, some little known. "

It is no news that there has long been a shortage of cheeeta/ stories. This is a modern collection, so I was not surprised to find the mixture well laced with modern miseries.

The fact that scenes and characters are so sensitively described makes the sadness fully potent. For all its quality I would not offer this as a bedside book.

From Margaret Drabble there is a tense description of a lovers' reunion in a cafe. with some emotional detail more likely, but not exclusively, to he found in women's writing.

Such remarks as: it takes two to part, just as it takes two to love" lodge in the mind. We don't know where the lovers go from there but there is a hint of hope for them which has scarcity value in modern short stories.

Elsewhere in the book a fat lady's dreams scare her psychiatrist — how badly you can read in Patricia Daly's story. No comfort in Jean Rhys's contribution. Here is a lonely old lady, scared by a rat, unbefriended by neighbours, moving amid justified fears.

"I here is haunting surprise when Mary Renault introduces a carpenter in the Jewish quarter of Alexandra. Her story is rounded off by a footnote that second century philosopher Celsus believed Jesus Christ to have lived and work in Egypt. Denys Val Baker's own introduction to the anthology, and the portraits of the twelve chosen authors enrich this significant collection.

Constance Holt

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