If you remember, last week I chose a story from an old-ish collection of modern short stories that most likely belonged to my mother. This week, I have picked up another collection titled Thirteen Modern English and American Short Stories. I bought this collection when I was at school and wanted to practice reading in English. The choice of stories in this collection might seem a bit more modern, but some of the stories are present in both collections. Although this collection does not have the booklet with notes and exercises, it has some of the vocabulary translated on the opposing page. A reflection of the development of teaching methods?
I chose a very short story and my review of it will be equally short. “A Night at a Cottage” (I was drawn by the title) by Richard Hughes would be a perfect Halloween story (I have never got the holiday traditions right!). I am not a specialist of ghost stories; however, this one seems to fill the requirements. The first-person narrator tells us about that rainy night he took refuge in an abandoned cottage in a “bedraggled garden” with “pale dead sunflowers and giant weeds stirred in the rain”. During the night, someone else enters the cottage and explains to our narrator that the cottage is abandoned because it is haunted by its former owner, who drowned several years ago. The ending is what I expected.
Although the story is a little bit spooky, and terribly wet, I found myself smiling while reading the ending. I guess it is a good story because of the atmosphere Hughes manages to create with so few words, but the ending is not surprising enough for my taste. It would have probably worked better if I were in the right set of mind. Yet, it remains a short and enjoyable read, which one should appreciate for its use of vocabulary and for its quality of suggestiveness.