Karla's Reviews > The Spinster

The Spinster by Robert Smythe Hichens
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's review
Apr 22, 11

bookshelves: short-stories, crimes-of-passion, adultery, ebook, 1st-person-pov
Read on April 22, 2011

This short story was originally published in a collection called "The Black Spaniel and Other Stories" in 1905. The extracted story is available here.

The story opens with the narrator arriving at the house of his friend Lord Inley, and during dinner some church bells toll. Lady Inley surmises that they must be tolling the death of the old spinster Mrs. Bassett, who is old enough to get sick and die. (She's a real charmer.) After Lady Inley leaves the room, Inley tells the narrator of the importance the old woman played at a crucial moment in his marriage.

There is no detail about the narrator apart from being Lord Inley's best man at his wedding, so it's an avatar for the reader. Lord Inley has most of the dialogue, but still doesn't seem like much of a presence. The author really gave the most attention to the briefly-seen Lady Inley with such caustic lines as:
Lady Inley went on crunching the bonbon between her little white teeth with all the enjoyment of a pretty marmoset.

"Miss Bassett is, or was, one of those funny old spinsters who always look the same and always ridiculous. Dry twigs, you know. One size all the way down. Very little hair, and no emotions. If it weren't for the sake of cats, one would wonder why such people are born. But they're always cat-lovers. I suppose that's why they're so often called old cats."


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