‘The Skylight’ by Penelope Mortimer

“The heat, as the taxi spiralled the narrow hill bends, became more evident.” Apart from anything else, I like my copy of this story collection by Penelope Mortimer, from 1966 (the collection first being published six years earlier). It features, on the front cover, a fine monochrome portrait of the author laconically burning her way through a cigarette, leaning back and observing all human folly in her wicker chair, The story itself, by the way, tells of a mother arriving at a holiday destination with her five-year-old son, and the anxieties that accrue, accumulate, accrete grotesquely, around the idea. The tension it generates is, to my mind, extraordinary. But don’t think about that now. Just relax. Pour a drink. Read on.

From Saturday Lunch with the Brownings, Arrow, 1966