Recommended by Goldsboro Books
Published posthumously in 1976, these stories include some familiar characters and scenarios, as well as an uncharacteristic vignette portraying urban hooligans.
The title story, 'The Yellow Meads of Asphodel', looks at the apparently stagnant lives of a brother and sister, both in their forties, who live together in the country house left to them by their parents. Their lives are uprooted, however, when one of them falls in love.
Two loved characters are revisited. Uncle Silas in 'Loss of Pride', where Silas recounts how he and his friends dealt with an obnoxious braggart and womanizer; and in 'The Proposal', published shortly after Bates's death, the story continues Bates's entertaining tales of Miss Shuttleworth.
In 'The Lap of Luxury', a year after the end of war, two former pilots, Maxie and Roger, revisit France to trace Maxie's escape route from a prisoner of war camp. They separate, and Roger is taken in by a lovely, rich widow. But after nearly a year, his leisurely life ends with the arrival of the woman's true lover.
The collection also features two bonus stories. First published in 1934, 'The Mad Woman' is a comic sketch about two boys, frustrated in the constraints of youth where everything is 'boring', who decide to spy on the local mad woman. The tale relates their wild speculations, their suspense and fear, and the stories they concoct after their adventure.
'From This Time Forward', first published in 1943, is narrated by a pilot, visiting the family of a recently deceased colleague, who learns a different side to his old friend's character. He discusses, with the aristocratic mother and sister of the dead pilot, their conflicting memories in a wrought and tender exploration of the fallacy of knowing.