Selected Stories - A E Coppard January 20, 2016 20:00

I am afraid that when it comes to this book, I did judge it by the cover.  Having enjoyed a really lovely wander around the grounds of Sissinghurst castle last summer, I headed to the gift shop on my way out and was intrigued to see a selection of second hand books for sale. I love the pick and mix and sense of unknown you get with old books, so I was in my element. 

Amid the lovely, musty scented reads was this one: Selected Stories by A E Coppard. I didn't know the author prior to reading the book, but two things made me head to the till. Firstly, the beautiful thirties feel of the cover and secondly the formidable author of the introduction - Doris Lessing. Together, they were a compelling combination.  It had to be good...

...Well it is. During the last couple of weeks, I've been reading stories from the book each evening. And what a treat. Basically it is a storybook for grown ups; full of short tales just two or three pages long, which to be honest, is ideal for me in the minutes before I plummet into a deep, 'nothing can wake this one' sleep. Some of the stories are dark; some mythical, others just fun and thoughtful. They are a great way to end the day. 

Since reading his book, I've come to have real affection for the author. Coppard wrote many of his books in the years between the two world wars, an era my sister and I absolutely love and one that is the inspiration for Denys & Fielding. Reading his stories gives you a sense of the world during that time. His love of nature and the outdoors is evident in every story. There is an intimacy and poetry in the way his writes, but no hint of pretension, which I put down to his Kentish roots...! I like to think that he would have smiled at the fact that someone who makes garden goodies from fabric inspired by the thirties and forties managed to find him and his book, completely by accident, on a shelf in one of the most celebrated and beautiful gardens in the county. Now there's a story...