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© William Sansom Estate 2017

London. All rights reserved.

Criticism

One of the best short story writers of this century.

St Louis Dispatch


Few short story writers have his ability literally to cast a spell from which you can never recover.

Saturday Review


The evocation of places and the pointing of oddities of behaviour are masterly.

Manchester Guardian

A Contest of Ladies

1956

Hogarth Press

Cover Design by Charles Mozley

The long title-story in this collection of tales​ - it is about a middle-aged bachelor who finds himself saddled with six Beauty Queens - is told with a wonderful verve which makes it a tonic for readers jaded by conventional situations and stock reponses.

 

For Mr Sansom, objects are seldom inanimate and places never mere backgrounds; they enter  into the spirit of the story and affect the destinies of its characters. An English haberdasher in Rome has one of those moments of extraordinary vision which come to ordinary people: a sea-slug in a Marseilles restaurant reveals the beautiful unpredictability of women: a pin-striped City gent is panicked by a Sussex landscape.

 

\Mr Sansom's range is wide, and he is never content to repeat himself. An accident on a trunk road; the lover who does actually die of laughing; the proposal of marriage accelerated by a corpse in a canal: subjects seem to grow everywhere for this writer, and he works them out with a skill and animation which keep the reader riveted. 

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CONTENTS

A Contest of Ladies

A Roman Holiday

Question and Answer

A Country Walk

The Big Stick

A Last Word

An Interlude

Alicia

A White Lie

Beauty and Beast

Death in the Sunday City

A Woman Seldom Found

The Ballroom

Pas de Deux

Happy Holiday Abroad