Lunchtime read: The Best Short Stories

The final story in this collection ends again showing just how clever Kipling is at laying down a twist, which catches you out at the end. The thing is with this tale you think that you know what is coming but then there is a kink in the final couple of pages that leaves you with a different ending from what you might have predicted.

‘They’

A man driving his motorcar drives into the grounds of a large house and sees children waving from the house and playing in the grounds but when he gets close no one is there except for a blind woman. She explains that the children are allowed to roam in her house and she loves them. The man comes a couple more times until a final encounter when he understands that the children are dead and because he has lost a child he cannot come back to visit again. The blind woman, realising that he understands, asks him if she thinks he is selfish, something he says she is not but he seems bitterly disappointed that he can never come back again.

You start to realise that the children are ghosts quite early on and it seems amazing that no one in the village tells the motorist or he doesn’t get it himself. But you never know that what is coming is that he has himself lost a child and that is why he has loved and lost and because his child might also walk among the others he has to leave.

This entire collection might be dated not just in terms of the Empire but also in the innocence of an earlier time. But there are several great ideas that a creative writer could take from the collection and throughout each story there is high quality writing from start to finish.

Full review to come shortly…

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