The Pink Biscuit by Elizabeth Bowen

“…in profile at her writing- table in the sunshine, by a vase of daffodils.”

This is a rare classic, and all Boweneers should read it. Not only for the believable and emotionally complex characterisation of young naive Sibella, staying with her aunt of aunts at Folkestone, because she had nowhere else available during the school holidays. She said she did not like men, but she needs to deal with a young man in a shop….
But also it needs to be read for … her attempting ‘retrieval of sin’, after almost accidentally pinching a single pink biscuit from a store, when sent shopping after her aunt’s servant, who usually did the shopping, went off sick – all magnificently told. But also, again, for the beautifully described minutiae of the store itself. The split pig, the nature of bacon slicing, the biscuits themselves and much more…
…and her satchel on the crook of her arm and her arm later ‘crocked’ (sic) around a pine tree trunk, almost a metaphor for stigmatic punishment, without even mentioning the word ‘elbow’! ‘Cheek pressed to the scaly bark.’ (Note the pine trees in ‘Among the Lilies’ that I reviewed recently.)
Yet she left her burden of goods behind, only to be given it back again — this arguably being symbol for the onset of paradoxical interminability in the passage through life’s guilt, blame, shame and, above all, hope.
The ‘needle point’ of such emotions is matchlessly felt by this classic work of literature, so shamefully unread, I guess.


My now complete review of all Bowen stories:

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