Overall, I am not a huge fan of Katherine Mansfield. I recognise the quality of her work but it doesn’t quite speak to me. This is doubtless my failing rather than hers. But this is a story I do remember. The lonely woman in the park. Her investment in the lives of others. Her belief that she is important, appreciated, valued. Then the nasty realisation that she is not. It is a bleak little story and I found it shocking. But it spoke to me when I was young as I myself felt endlessly peripheral, awkward, an outsider. A brilliant and painful read.
First published in the Athenaeum on 26 November 1920, and later reprinted in The Garden Party and Other Stories, Constable, 1922, which is currently available as a Penguin Modern Classic; also collected in the Selected Stories, Oxford World Classics, 2007. Available to read online here)