Born in Wellington, New Zealand in 1888, Katherine Mansfield had a mere three decades in which to establish herself as a writer, before her untimely death from tuberculosis at 34 years of age. Despite her short life, Mansfield published several collections of short stories, while other stories, poems, reviews, notebooks and letters were posthumously edited by her husband John Middleton Murry and subsequently published. With her stream-of-consciousness style of writing, which allowed the story to develop through the private thoughts and actions of her characters rather than through the development of a plot, Mansfield came to be regarded as a central figure in the development of the modern short story .
Not being a person who usually picks up short stories, I had my doubts as to whether Mansfield’s work would satisfy me. I normally eschew the petite works in favour of heavy tomes. I enjoy the character development, complicated plots and depth of description that a longer novel affords; not to mention the satisfaction of experiencing in full, a tale 500 pages strong. Given this preference, as I looked through the contents of The Garden Party and Other Short Stories, I was not expecting much from Mansfield’s succinct work. However, as I am currently on a 20th century female writer’s kick, I decided to suck it up and give Katherine a try.