We are delighted to publish The Daffodil Sky by H. E. Bates, first published in 1955, that mixes eclectic characters travelling to foreign lands with poetic treatments of rural life in Bates’s Northamptonshire.
The latest instalment in Bloomsbury Reader’s republication of all of Bates’s collections, the Times noted that “there is no better writer of straightforward short stories…Mr. Bates writes simply; his instinct is a deep compassion.” This collection illustrates his ability both to feel deeply, and then to reflect sensitively on the page.
‘A Place in the Heart’ is set in Asia against a colourful backdrop of rickshaws and ceremonial drumming. An Englishman, shortly before returning home, romances a local girl in this tale of lost love when his inarticulate and flippant goodbye is achingly contrasted with her disappointment.
“Only her enormous black-brown eyes seemed to have permanence or solidity. All the time they transfixed him with a sort of troubled amazement: as if somewhere or other she had seen him before.”
Closer to home, ‘The Evolution of Saxby’, one of Bates’s best-known stories, concerns a cold, controlling woman who buys, decorates and sells one house after another. Challenging this notion of constant movement is her sweet but helpless husband, who wants only to settle down and garden in a place to call home.
This new edition of The Daffodil Sky is enhanced by an additional story, ‘The Letter,’ – never before published in any collection and only recently rediscovered – where a mother struggles to write a letter to her son, the reasons behind her complex emotions gradually becoming clear.
If you are new to Bates, why not try our free short story, Castle in the Air, to find out why Graham Green named him as England’s successor to Chekhov.