Chosen by Rachel
A young woman observes the absurd and grotesque while staying in a German pension.
✔ “In A German Pension was Mansfield’s first short story collection, written when she was 22. The stories are semi-autobiographical because Mansfield herself was sent away to a German pension for being unmarried mother to be.
“The collection’s narrator is stuck in the pension and feels she is surrounded by grotesque fools. She unleashes her disgust by writing sharp and satirical anecdotes of them, which usually portray their revolting habits
“The stories, of course, are actually about gender roles and sexism, violence towards women, class discrepancies and the exploitation of children. The stories start off lightly satirical and palatable but get progressively more absurb and unpalatable.”
✔ “Very much a book of character studies, with short stories all featuring the same protagonist, a young Englishwoman in a German pension. As the story unfolds we discover her complexities – she feels she is kind of pitted against the Germans, who all seem to be described as grotesque. Fascinating and thought-provoking.” – Rachel
✔ “My attention was captured by Mansfield’s often tragic themes and boring everyday life written so sharply and with a dark sense of humour. Especially interesting considering such quality of writing was produced by someone so young at the time.” – Jo