In this new collection of fifteen short pieces Fremlin runs the gamut of her many talents. The nightmarish plots, the wit and elegance, the cosy domestic details with the hint of something very nasty in the woodshed have lost none of their edge. Prosperous suburbia at work and play reveal the extent of Miss Fremlin’s probing; the lies, the guilts and the sick hopes lurk just out of sight.
‘Her Number on it’ is a compelling portrait of kleptomania. But at the same time, Martha, the neurotic housewife, evokes a totally credible atmosphere of brave and happy youth until…the slow realisation of what it is she is trying to steal develops to an explosive ending, in more ways than one. The ‘Unsuspected Talent’ of another prosperous middle-class wife gives us a grim little study of destruction. The devoted wife and mother does everything in her power for her husband’s success only to realise that her powers were not quite what she had thought.
There are other blood-curdling moments of self-awareness; and a further theme running through many of these stories is the elasticity of time, which can turn itself inside out, jump forwards or backwards and perhaps even undo itself.