An enjoyable selection of Ruth Rendell’s short stories. When deciding on the number of stars to give as a rating, I was minded to give three, as collections such as this often contain middling kinds of stories that are entertaining diversions without much to commend them, and there are perhaps one or such stories in this collection. In the end, though, I thought I’d go for four stars to match the best of the stories.
Of the stories here, “The New Girlfriend” is perhaps the most well-known, but in the end I found it quite slight. Of more interest were stories in which there was a feeling that a typical Rendellian psychological novella or short novel might have grown from the barer bones of the short story — into this category fell “The Orchard Walls” or “Fen Hall”. Other stories also tantalisingly hinted at themes, obsessions, interests, characters or locations in later novels — into this category fell “Fen Hall” (again) and “Father’s Day”.
The collection closed with “The Green Road to Quephanda”, a lovely surprise in that it was almost a metanarrative, a contemplation on genre and the roots (routes) of imagination.