Paperbacks: The People on Rivilege Hill, by Jane Gardam

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The Independent Culture

Jane Gardam's latest short stories strike a wistful and elegiac note. With many of her narrators facing their final decades, diminishing days are inter-cut with memories of more raucous times.

"The Last Reunion", a story which might have been penned by Barbara Pym, is typical of the collection. A group of four elderly women gather for a summer picnic to commemorate their old college. Reverting to the girls they once were, they come face to face with their waspish ex-tutor Miss Folly, and get to share some hitherto undisclosed truths about their long-ago love lives. Discretion proves one of the first casualties of old age.