Other Free Encyclopedias » Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern Fiction » Books & Authors: Award-Winning Fiction (Ke-Ma)

Mackay, Shena

stories british woman childhood

(British, 1944– )

Some of Mackay's novels and stories are domestic comedies, with sharp observations of the British class system, in which women typically battle the odds. Others have an elegiac dimension in which the past is viewed critically, expressed in richly evocative prose. Redhill Rococo (1986) is of the first type: a woman struggles to keep her family together while her husband is in prison, and takes on a middle-class young lodger. Dunedin (1992) has a much larger canvas, its two narratives divided between 1909 New Zealand and contemporary London, contrasting the lives of a Presbyterian minister with his female descendant. Mackay's best and most acclaimed novel so far is The Orchard on Fire (1995), a dark idyll of childhood set in the Kent village of ‘Stonebridge’ during 1953. It is a haunting re-creation of childhood's fears and fantasies as seen by a returning adult, and avoids nostalgia. Her stories are frequently hilarious and poignant by turns. ‘Death by Art Deco’, in The World's Smallest Unicorn and Other Stories (1999), concerns a successful woman author who employs an aspiring writer as a disastrous domestic.

Mavis Cheek, Candia McWilliam, Ronald Firbank  JS

Mackenzie, (Edward Montague) Compton [next] [back] Machen, Arthur

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