The Music at Long Verney: Short Stories - Sylvia Townsend Warner,  Michael Steinman (Editor),  Foreword by William Maxwell Another solid collection of short stories from one of my favorite authors. There are none here that fall below three stars in my estimation, and a few are worthy of a fourth or fifth star. My favorites were:

“Flora” – A story about a misogynistic scholar who snubs the eponymous widow when she attempts to deliver something of her husband’s to him.

“Maternal Devotion” – A mother diverts the attentions of an unwanted suitor to her daughter.

“Love” – A reflection on what it means to love someone

“A Flying Start,” “English Mosaic,” “The Candles,” “Furnivall’s Hoopoe,” and “The Listening Woman” all take place in Abbey Antique Galleries, under the management of Mr. Edom, aided by his assistant Mr. Collins. My favorite among these is “Furnivall’s Hoopoe,” where a woman and an overeager ornithologist tangle over a scrap screen where the aforementioned bird is illustrated.

All of my favorites were fairly light, if not comical, in tone but there were stories in this collection that adopted a more serious note, including “The Inside-Out” and “A Scent of Roses.” And even Warner’s comedy is often leavened with a measure of seriousness. In “Furnivall’s Hoopoe,” for example, Mrs. Otter, whose screen is the object of the dispute, is not as happy in the outcome as she might have been because the loss of the screen represents a loss of something important in her life:

“Toby Otter would not go to prison and his mother would be left with a comfortable remainder. Yet it seemed to him that despite this happy ending a sudden cloud had shadowed her, a resignation, a tremor of regret for something precious and irrecoverable, not to do with the screen.” (p. 134)

The Foreword has some interesting tidbits about Warner’s life and work but the Afterword can be skipped.

As with all things Sylvia Townsend Warner (at least so far), I recommend this little volume enthusiastically.