On the Edge of the Cliff and Other Stories by V S Pritchett - review by Charles Palliser

Charles Palliser

Fear of Falling

On the Edge of the Cliff and Other Stories


Chatto & Windus 179pp £5.95 order from our bookshop

A theme running through most of these highly accomplished stories is the way we evade the dangerous truth by means of the fictions, lies, and compromises with reality which we perpetrate in order to keep a marriage, a love affair, or a friendship going, or to preserve an image of ourselves. As fictions about the fiction-making instinct they achieve at their best – and most of them are very good – a complex but unforced ambiguity in which it becomes difficult or impossible to be sure finally who is lying or whether one character is only pretending to believe the fictions of another.

The theme is stated in the opening title-story and summed up in the last piece, ‘The Fig Tree’. In the former an elderly man having an affair with a girl a third his age realises how close he is to ‘the edge of the cliff’ – old age, death, the

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