‘At the Bay’ by Katherine Mansfield

I first read Katherine Mansfield as a child. I still have my dad’s copy of In a German Pension sitting on my desk, but my favourite, rather unwieldy story has become ‘At the Bay’, It forms a kind of trilogy with ‘Prelude’ and ‘The Doll’s House’. Time moves strangely here, expanding wherever Mansfield chooses to breathe into it. There’s a sense of a world enchanted, filled with creatures of portent and potential. Visually the whole thing is preoccupied with what we can’t see and what hasn’t yet appeared and the narrator is at no pains to explain — the unknowing is part of the magic. I also love this story for its children. Little Lottie’s inability to pronounce the word ‘emerald’ became the title for my story ‘Nemeral’.

First published in the London Mercury, 1922. Widely collected and anthologised. Read Online

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