Fiction ~ short story
First published in Woman at Home, December 1915
Collected in Desirable Residences and Other Stories, 1991
Approx. 3,000 words
(First read 21/05/1992)
One of my favouritest E F Benson short stories: it tells a complete tale without a shred of padding. The story itself ~ of two society dames who, rather than doing anything at all useful, try to outvie each other as to who can produce (from literally nothing) the best and recentest news of the War, for dissemination in their drawing-rooms ~ is inspired twaddle. The characters are sublime ~ ridiculous but not ridiculed. The tone is light. The comedy is delicious.
All this is, of course, what EFB gives us in spades in the Mapp and Lucia novels ~ but here it has the added advantage of being all over and done with in 15 minutes*.
In my opinion: perfect.
*I'm not suggesting that those novels outstay their welcomes, just that a lot of Benson's short stories last far too long, given the foundations they're built on.