This major collection by one of the most important writers of our time contains all of Doris Lessing's short fiction other than the stories set in Africa, from the beginning of her career until now.
These stories, in their rich variety of background and mood, are set in London, Paris, the south of France, the English countryside; and the themes that have always characterized Doris Lessing's work are vividly represented: men and women possessed by love or driven into obsessive encounters by lust or chance or needs they can barely trace; the bedrock realities of marriage in which serious, thoughtful, interesting people are trying to find out what they are doing with, and to, each other; what they really want, what they have to give; the fate of women; the crisis of the individual whose very psyche is threatened by a society unattuned to its own most dangerous qualities; the irrevocable moments of decision that somehow identify someone's fundamental character or destiny. Lessing's people are instantly recognizable and real - actresses, journalists, a T.V. producer, an aging rake, an old woman poorer than poor, a little diamond cutter, an elderly gentleman in Regent's Park, and always the couples - married, having affairs, having ended affairs - whose emotional progress she traces with an uncanny and unerring intelligence about the ways in which relationships proceed and feel, how they alternatively repress and provoke that self-knowledge which is crucial to the development of character and spirit.
"Her grasp of what is actually happening in the world is ministerial," wrote Margaret Drabble. "Doris Lessing is one of the very few novelists who have refused to believe that the world is too complicated to understand."
Here are thirty-five stories, ranging from short, resonant sketches to the superb novellas, The Temptation of Jack Orkney and The Other Woman (the latter never published before in America). They constitute a major aspect of Doris Lessing's work, powerfully conveying the uncompromising vision of one of the most passionately admired writers in the world today.