Day's End by H.E. Bates

, Hogweard, Thatched Cottage in Higham Ferrars, Northamptonshire, Wikimedia Commons

This is a beautifully written collection of short stories with excellent character studies and exquisite descriptions of the English countryside and weather.  Most of them are fairly miserable, however.There's Israel, an aged farmer struggling to keep his farm for his daughter, an unhappy baker's wife whose only joy is a short-lived affair, and a minister's wife who finds a poor, homeless person in her church.  I preferred the happier ones, such as the one about a young boy who is keen on a girl at a birthday celebration.

I like novels better than short stories, but I have always been a big fan of H.E. Bates, and these didn't disappoint, although I occasionally found them a bit irritating.  Unlike Lesley Pearse, who wrote the introduction to this book, I admire H.E. Bates's novels more than his stories.  However, I am not surprised that he has been compared with the great Chekhov.

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