Date of publication
To Priscilla, although she found fault with all of them, I dedicate these stories
J. S. ‘New Novels: Love Has No Resurrection’. The Times, no. 48417, 22 Sept. 1939, p. 3; Muir, Edwin. ‘New Novels’. The Listener, vol. 22, no. 561, 12 Oct. 1939, p. 734; Tiltman, Marjorie Hessell. ‘Novels of the Week: Love Has No Resurrection’. The Times Literary Supplement, no. 1963, 16 Sept. 1939, p. 537.
Love Has No Resurrection (pp1-6): Thalia has been having a love affair with Mickey, who is now attracted by the younger, blonde Yvonne. Thalia tries to treat him generously, believing that is the way to get him to recognise how much she loves him - but he leaves, saying she is the most neurotic woman he ever met. Fainting away, Thalia hopes that he will recognise this distress as proof of her love and value. Mothers Don’t Know Everything (pp7-31) Michael is the young son of Clara Grogan, a Catholic Irishwoman whose husband has left her for another woman. Michael has heard his parents arguing and is sorry that his mother is so sad; she tells him to forget all about his father. Unable to afford a holiday, they take a trip to the seaside for the day. Michael gives a lot of thought to pleasing his mother but, while she is napping, he plays cricket with some other children and their father. Returning to his mother and learning it is time to go home, he begins to cry. O.K. for Story (pp32-54) Mervyn, a writer who has published a slim book of poems, has got a job at a film studio. He has very little to do but is anxious to keep the job, as it is well-paid and he is not well-off. The film, a Christmas story, seems very bad to him. The star, Charlotte, quarrels with a producer and leaves the film. Mervyn suggests a way to rewrite the film so her part is not required, drawing heavily on the plot of The Merchant of Venice, and is given a permanent job. It’s All Too Difficult (pp55-67): Mrs Amberley is staying in Italy with her nine-year-old daughter Jennie, who has been ordered south over the winter as she may have TB. Her Cousin Horatio has been very helpful with arrangements and is now visiting. He has some rich friends, Claude and Carol, who have a house nearby and he takes Mrs Amberley to visit. Jennie is not permitted to attend as their hosts do not care for children. The two men are middle-aged, dressed rather alike, and both seem sad, Carol particularly so. They show them round the house, which is exquisite and beautifully decorated. Mrs Amberley realises that they share a room. Over tea, Mrs Amberley becomes convinced that Claude is making Carol so sad. They are shown the garden, and Mrs Amberley takes her leave, marvelling at the lifestyle of the rich. The Young Are in Earnest (pp68-93): Oliver Innes, an unmarried barrister, and Lorna Bannister, a young widow, have been friends for many years, and are seen as an established unofficial couple in their circles. They are invited to stay by Keith Russell, a novelist and his wife Anita, to their house on the Welsh coast. They have a young daughter, Sylvie, who is eighteen and very beautiful. Oliver gets on well with Keith and is quite impressed with Sylvie’s intelligence. They bathe in a natural pool, and Oliver and Sylvie show off their diving. The next day, Oliver takes Lorna for a walk, but talks only of Sylvie, and Lorna realises he is smitten with her. Swimming again that afternoon, Lorna feels the last traces of youthfulness leave her. After dinner that evening, there is dancing. Sylvie and Oliver go out into the garden and Sylvie returns upset; Oliver has kissed her. The next day, Oliver confesses this to Lorna and marvels at Sylvie’s lack of sophistication, and their relationship is restored. Bluff (pp94-120): Benson, the male first-person narrator, is travelling from London to Singapore by boat, a journey he is familiar with as a worker with the Eastern Telegraph Company. On this journey, among his fellow passengers and Clare Christie, a beautiful, intelligent and flirtatious woman who is universally popular, and Teddy Reed, who she says she knows slightly. Teddy Reed is, in the ship’s estimation, a ‘bounder’: vain, mildly dishonest about his past, and boastful. One of his boasts is his shorthand speed and the passengers agree to trick him into testing this. Also on the ship is H. A. Leslie, a distinguished novelist; he does not mix much but, like everyone else is taken with Clare. She persuades him to ask Teddy to take down some shorthand; it is fast and complicated and Teddy fails, publicly, and suggests it is the heat. A concert is arranged, and Teddy (who plays the piano badly) is asked - or suggests - that he accompany Clare’s songs. Benson finds Clare arguing with him on deck about this, and refusing to have him accompany her. Drunk and angry, Teddy reveals that they have had a previous romantic, and probably sexual relationship, and were secretly engaged. Clare denies this, and says that he harassed her. She asks Benson to keep this secret; Teddy leaves the ship shortly afterwards at Colombo. Benson has his doubts about the truth of the matter, and wonders still further when he meets Clare’s fiancé at Singapore, who tells him Clare is a wonderful poker player. The Girl Who Told the Truth (pp121-128): Lady Catherine, involved in many public organisations and also writing a book, is dismayed to find her secretary, Miss Palmer is resigning to care for her ill mother. She is replaced by efficient Mrs Fisher, who leaves after a month because the post is too far from High Wycombe, where her daughter is at school; Mrs Fisher is exhausted by the time she reaches the town for her week-end visits. Miss Cram is interviewed as her replacement, and Lady Catherine sets out her expectations: the work must come first. When Miss Cram admits occasional bilious attacks, the interview is terminated. Eventually, Miss Giles takes the post and is the perfect secretary for over three years. When she takes a holiday, she writes to a furious Lady Catherine that she has been ordered to take a complete rest in the country. Returning to put things in order for the next secretary, Lady Catherine suggests that she simply does not want to work. Miss Giles tells her the truth: on holiday, she has met a man who is likely to propose, and she must be on the spot to pursue the relationship. She is not intelligent enough to do anything except work for someone else, and she would rather have the chance of a home and a husband, even one she does not love. Victims (pp129-148): Sisters Ada and Mabel Fletcher run a lodging-house in a seaside town. Mabel owns the house, bought with money earned and saved during her nursing career; she has a hot temper. Ada is older (about 60) and has kept house most of her life for a widowed uncle, who unexpectedly married; Mabel then offered her a home. Ada has a calmer nature and does all the cooking; the story is told from her point of view. Major Trimmer has been lodging with them over three months in the winter season, which is excellent from the economic viewpoint, but he has also begun to pay attention to Mabel, and take her to the cinema. Before one of these trips, Mabel criticises the amount of food Ada has left out for the maid, Dolly. Ada gives it to her anyway and they discuss Mabel’s prospects with the Major. Ada admits to thinking of having a tea-shop if Mabel were to marry and sell the guest house. A telegram comes for the Major; his sister is in the area and wants to visit for lunch. Mabel initiates a great flurry of cleaning and cooking, and puts on her best clothes; she is invited upstairs to meet the sister after lunch. Ada indulges in a daydream about her tea-shop, but when Mabel comes down she shuts herself away in her own room. The Major leaves to spend a weekend visit with his sister’s hosts; on Monday morning, a letter arrives saying he will not be returning. Mabel deals with her disappointment by taking it out on Ada and Dolly, The Other Poor Chap (pp149-157): Harry Newberry receives a telephone call saying that Tom Kelly has been badly injured in a car accident; the hospital has asked him to visit. The Irish Major Kelly was a rival for the affections of Harry’s wife Geraldine, before they married; Tom went to live in India, but after his return became a friend of both the Newberrys. Harry reflects on the marvellous luck he had when Geraldine chose him. Geraldine is visiting some friends, and he phones them to tell them the news; Myrtle, her friend, suggests that she should break the news to Geraldine, and send her to the hospital in her car. He agrees, and drives to the hospital himself, where he is told that Tom will not survive, but that he recognised Geraldine before losing consciousness. Harry is glad about this until he sees his wife and her stricken expression. ”I Believe in Love” (pp158-183): Ivy Vernon, as a schoolgirl, makes this statement; her schoolfellows ostracise her as a result. Orphaned Ivy gets a job after school as an assistant teacher in Yorkshire and stays there for five years. Every summer she stays with her aunt, who has a boarding-house on the South Coast, and enjoys some summer romances. However, the young men forget her as soon as they leave. Eventually her aunt May invites her to come there permanently to work. When Ivy is thirty-eight, her aunt dies and leaves her the house and investments which give her an annual income of £300. Ivy sells the house and goes on a Mediterranean cruise. She makes some friends among the quieter, more sedate passengers. One evening Ivy is surprised when a young man, Mick Lawson (part of a glamorous party set on the ship) asks her to dance. She dances well, and tells him all about herself, including her recent inheritance. A romance develops as Mick pays her his undivided attention and tells her that his mother was a Spanish dancer, deserted by her husband, who died when he was six; he was raised in an orphanage before going to work in a hotel and eventually a a chauffeur to a rich old woman; she had left him her estate, but her children had disputed the will and he was left with nothing. He gambled with what money he had, and had been in and out of work before receiving a sudden, unexpected inheritance from his estranged father. But the inheritance is going through probate and he does not yet have the money. Ivy’s friends on the cruise warn her that Mick is likely telling her a lot of lies, and is simply in pursuit of Ivy’s money, but she refuses to listen. When he tells her there is a problem obtaining an advance from his inheritance, she offers to lend him money. He refuses at first, then agrees. After the cruise, Ivy marries Mick. He goes through all their money, is unfaithful and eventually leaves her, lying that he is going to take a hotel job in Brighton. Ivy is left impoverished and has to take work as a hotel housekeeper, but never loses her faith in Mick’s love. It All Came Right in the End (pp184-210): The Allisons live in Johore (now Malaysia), and their only child, Rose, is being sent back to England now she is six, as is the custom. Her mother confides in the narrator, a schoolmaster, that she is worried that Rose is too dependent on personal relationships, and will always be at the mercy of her affections. Life goes on in Johore for the Allisons, and Mrs Allison and the other mothers discuss their children now in England. At 18, Rose returns to Johore to spend a year with her parents. She is very pretty and lively, and has great social success among the unmarried English men, but falls in love with a married man, Copper Gifford. There is much gossip about this, but her parents are helpless to prevent it; her mother says that there is a perfect affinity between them and they would allow the marriage if he were divorced, which rather shocks the narrator, as does their failure to prevent the romance. Mrs Gifford refuses to give Copper a divorce, however. Mrs Allison believes Rose will give him up, however, and is very sorry for them both. Indeed, they do part and Rose goes back to England with her parents who are returning for good. Visiting England a few years later, Mrs Allison relates that Rose has never forgotten Copper and has yet to marry. Five more years past, and two visitors to Johore, the Misses Verschoyle, bring news that Rose is engaged to their nephew Humphrey, a neighbouring farmer substantially older than Rose. Discussing it, the narrator concludes that Rose, now reportedly pale and quiet, is not in love with Humphrey, but he is well-off and she has been persuaded into a sensible marriage. The marriage takes place. Our narrator returns to England permanently some years later, and meets a Miss Verschoyle again by chance. Rose’s marriage has not gone well; her mother died, and Rose wanted more emotional support - including conversation over meals - than Humphrey could give. They had no children and Rose was not well-adapted to rural life; with her mother gone, Rose felt she had no companionship. She had what Miss Verschoyle sceptically calls a nervous breakdown, and has lost weight and her good looks. The doctor recommended a change, so she went to stay in the South of France. From there, she wrote to Humphrey saying she wanted to spend half of each year in London or abroad. He refused, and Rose left him. A year later, Miss Verschoyle relates the next episode in the story: Rose has returned to Humphrey, after becoming ill, potentially with TB, and getting into financial difficulties. She has tried to earn money, but failed. Now she is a most devoted wife to Humphrey and, Miss Verschoyle asserts, perfectly happy. The narrator is sceptical, suggesting that it is Rose’s ‘utter desolation of spirit’ that has driven her to this step. Soliloquy before a Mirror (pp211-214): A monologue by an older woman, Isabelle, admitting to sixty but evidently older than that, in which she reminisces about the death of her husband thirty years earlier, considers whether her daughter-in-law is jealous of her, reflects with some satisfaction on her continued attractiveness and slim figure, and on the slow creep of the aging process. She remembers her childhood and how much cleverer she was than her younger sister, and wonders whether she could have done something ‘quite brilliant’ if only she had been properly educated, like writing plays. She congratulates herself on being able to remember the details of her childhood, poems memorised and the songs her mother used to sing. But in the closing paragraphs her confusion emerges, as she instructs her maid (whose name she cannot get right) to pack for a trip to her childhood home, long since demolished. The Reason (pp215-234): Catherine and Oliver have been on holiday in Brittany. Oliver is leaving for a brief work trip back to London, and they make jokes about their fellow English tourists rather mechanically at the railway station. It emerges that Oliver is married, and has been writing regularly to his wife Valerie during their trip; he and Catherine have been having an affair for six months, and he has made it quite clear he won’t be leaving Valerie. Catherine is jealous of Oliver’s love, and longs for him to say he loves her best of the two; she regrets being reasonable about his return to London. Back at the hotel, she sees the two middle-aged Englishwomen that she and Oliver have laughed about, implying they are a couple, christening them Miss Lump and Miss Dump. She feels they are wondering about Oliver’s departure and feels very lonely and self-conscious; her only comfort is in writing to Oliver at length. But she gets a letter and then a telegram from him which cheer her, although he does not say when he might come back. The holiday season is nearly over, and the weather turns colder; Catherine knows that unless he returns soon, it will be too late. But she does not suggest any solutions to him in her letters. The other guests start to leave. She ruminates painfully on her circumstances and wanders around the resort, revisiting places that are special because of memories of Oliver, of the holiday traditions they had so quickly established. Catherine’s mind chases after potential reasons for Oliver’s continued absence: Valerie could be ill, there could really be a work problem, he might be coming back secretly to surprise her. But when a letter finally comes, although it is full of loving affection, saying that Brittany ‘had been a heavenly dream, and they’d always remember it, and one day they must do it again’. She realises he is not coming back, and that he will never give her a reason for this. Miss Lump and Miss Dump are the last guests still at the hotel, and they invite her out for a walk; she realises they are sorry for her. The Indispensable Woman (pp235-254): Helen Blunt lives, happily single, in London, but when her sister-in-law dies she moves abruptly to the country to live with her brother Edward and his four children, for fear that the governess will marry Edward. Taking over the household, she replaces the young, pretty governess with 37-year-old Miss May. She misses her London life but is interested in the children and her genius for administration means that the house is soon running exceptionally well with established routines, although Edward is reserved, vague and often late for things. On a day trip to London, Helen slips on a wet pavement and breaks her leg. Her friend Dr. Marian Arrows comes to the hospital, and Helen confides her anguish that Edward’s house will get in to a terrible muddle without her. She has to convalesce for at least six weeks. Edward comes to visit and is of the same mind; he resolves to pay more attention to how the household is run, and the children cared for. Consequently he spends more time with them and with Miss May. Helen’s routines slip rather, but the household is much more relaxed, and Edward realises that he much prefers the new atmosphere. He also enjoys spending evenings with Miss May. Dr. Arrows tells Edward that Helen needs a longer rest, and mentions how much of her pleasurable London life she has given up to look after him - and Helen’s fear that he would marry the governess. Edward is rather shocked by this - he would never have considered marrying his first governess - but the idea takes root. That evening, he proposes to Miss May and is accepted. Helen stays on in London living with Dr. Arrows; Edward and his new wife lead a happy, unpunctual life in the country. Opportunity (pp255-276): Harry and Fan Hancock live in the country with their children Billie and Dinah; Harry’s inheritance from his uncle has enabled him to retire at 45. It is the summer holidays, and Fan’s sister Millie is visiting from America. Harry is a stickler for punctuality, chivvying his wife out of bed so she will be in time for breakfast, and complains extensively about the lack of hot water. Fan tries to dissuade him from speaking to the servants. He tells his children off for singing in the garden and leaving their toys out. Fan reproaches herself for not reminding them. At breakfast, Harry’s complaints continue, mainly about his son’s cat, and he reminds the children how lucky they are to live in such a beautiful place. Millie slightly contradicts him. An understamped letter arrives, and Harry refuses to pay the twopence required. Millie gets Fan to come and sit with her under the willow-tree for a while, but they are interrupted by Harry who has views about the sandwiches for a proposed picnic. When they go and make them, he wonders why they are not making the best of a lovely day. Before lunch, Harry attempts to stop Dinah running upstairs, and tears her dress; he is then greeted affectionately by the cat, and threatens to have it drowned, distressing Billie. After lunch, they go to the beach, and Harry’s complaints continue; he constantly chivvies the children and Fan about. Millie takes him for a walk and tells him he needs to stop his perpetual nagging and grumbling, and give Fan more affectionate attention and help with tiresome chores; “if it wasn’t for the children, I should do my very best to persuade her to leave you”. Harry is reflective. At home, he actually hangs up the wet bathing-things. But at bed-time he invites Fan to confirm that they have nothing to complain of, and immediately his litany of complaints starts up again. ”My Son Had Nothing On His Mind” (pp277-301): the story opens with a radio announcement asking Gilbert Catto, 23, to contact his family; he has been missing from home for a few days. He has disappeared just before he was due to marry Rhoda Taverner; his mother has asserted that he was happy and had nothing on his mind. The narrative then shifts back to a tea-party of Mrs Catto’s friends at which she discusses her son, his forthcoming marriage and his writing career in tones of great satisfaction; she was widowed in pregnancy, and has had a close, doting relationship with Gilbert. Gilbert and Rhoda will not live with Mrs Catto permanently after the wedding, but will be staying for a long visit. At the same time, Rhoda is packing for her honeymoon; she is attractive, but lacking in vitality, and has a tendency to put on weight. Rhoda is not in favour of slimming or the use of cosmetics and has never cut her hair; she thinks of herself as an old-fashioned girl. Her cousin Shirley, who is with her, is more modern, watches her weight, plucks her eyebrows and is far more modern, training to be a medical student. Rhoda says a lot of sententious things about love, and Shirley asks whether it is really wise for the couple to live with Mrs Catto, but Rhoda feels that Gilbert needs both of them to look after him, and that she would not want to come between them. While these conversations are taking place, Gilbert is walking on the moors and reflecting on his engagement to Rhoda. Whenever he had shown a vague interest in a woman before, his mother had a spell of headaches; she had introduced him to Rhoda, who was very like her. Alone with Rhoda, he had kissed her and she had accepted a proposal he had not actually made. He has gone along with the wedding, but realises now that he cannot marry Rhoda, as it will drive him mad to be trapped with her and his mother. Later that afternoon, he meets Shirley, who tells him he looks wretched and that she thinks it has to do with the wedding. Gilbert pours out his heart to her, and she suggests he should run away, as he is clearly not up to calling off the marriage. He gives Shirley a letter to post on his behalf. His mother, receiving it, tells the press that she and Rhoda - who has come to live with her - will wait for Gilbert. He has got lodgings, and a job in a film studio, in London, and meets Shirley again, who advises him to break off his engagement. He is reconciled with his mother, and Rhoda writes to forgive him. This panics him so much that he marries his landlady. They Don’t Wear Labels (pp302-314): Mrs Fuller runs a London boarding-house and narrates the story. Two of her guests are Mr and Mrs Peverelli; she is an invalid, although Mr Peverelli confides that there is nothing organically wrong with her. Mr Peverelli is sociable, and a good card-player. One night when he is away, Mrs Peverelli asks for some cocoa, and confides that she feels unsafe and is afraid of her husband, who has repeatedly tried to poison her. Mrs Fuller brushes this away, ascribing it to jealousy and self-dramatisation. At Christmas, the boarding-house has a small tree, and Mr Peverelli buys some baubles to decorate it. On Boxing Day, he announces they are moving on. Clearing out their room, Mrs Fuller finds a tiny fragment of coloured glass from a broken bauble; but she never finds the rest of the pieces.