Small Pleasures by Clare Chambers

"Small pleasures - the first cigarette of the day; a glass of sherry before Sunday lunch; a bar of chocolate parcelled out to last a week; a newly published library book, still pristine and untouched by other hands; the first hyacinths of spring; a neatly folded pile of ironing, smelling of summer; the garden under snow; an impulsive purchase of stationery for her drawer.........." It's not until ten pages before the end that we get this list of small pleasures, the consolations of a life of duty and frustration and narrow horizons in a 1950's London suburb. And by the time we stumble across it, it seems not as pinched or pathetic as it might to our jaded and pampered twenty-first century eyes. Rather, these are the well-deserved daily rewards of an admirable character, who has the misfortine to live as a single, professional woman with no emotional sustenance in a man's world.…

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