Tuesday, October 17, 2006

The Sixpenny Debt and other Oxford stories

The Sixpenny Debt and other Oxford stories is a rather mixed collection of short stories from the OxPens writing group. The title story, "The Sixpenny Debt" by Jane Stemp, is by far the best of the 16 stories in the collection. 13 year old Barty Lambert is an impoverished scholar at Oxford University, whose friend and protector Giles has died of a fever. He has been struggling to survive without starving until two people step into his life to assist him. Gina Claye's, "The Window", is a brief snapshot of a moment in a young woman's life, told from an intriguing point of view. Jane Gordon-Cumming's "Education in Action" was an amusing tale apart from the slightly snide tone of the ending. Lorna Pearson's "Cross Purposes" seemed to be at cross purposes with itself and I found it irritating, even though I'm not a big fan of Lewis Carroll ! Linora Lawrence's "The Tortoises of Turl Street" was disappointingly long-winded and her tortoises so anthropomorphised they might as well have been men, not tortoises.

There are several murder stories in the collection, unsurprisingly it seems to me, given the number of crime writers that have lived in or near Oxford, including, of course, Colin Dexter of Inspector Morse fame. Colin attended the launch party for the collection, and he was as charming and courteous as he always is at book events.

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