Saturday Lunch with the Brownings
by Penelope Mortimer
‘Madge never went down to breakfast. She refused, out of a strong feeling of self-preservation, to acknowledge its existence.’
‘What’s the plan?’, Madge Browning’s husband William asks her on Saturday, the compulsory weekly holiday they and their three children must spend together. If they can just make it through lunch, Madge’s picture of them as the perfect family, an image she has built their lives on, might survive. Unfortunately, Saturday Lunch with the Brownings is anything but peaceful.
From the apocalyptic scenes at the Brownings’, to a much-anticipated dinner party that goes horribly wrong, and a chilling drama that plays out behind the hospital curtains in a maternity ward, these twelve stories unerringly capture the tensions of domestic life with brutal precision and deliciously dark humour.
First published in 1960, Penelope Mortimer’s only collection of stories lays bare the fury and passion that lurk beneath the surface of everyday life. Saturday Lunch with the Brownings is a stylish and unsettling modern classic by one of the finest writers of the twentieth century.
‘None of these stories has dated; they are witty, despairing and sometimes horribly truthful.’ – The Times
‘A welcome reissue, these 12 short stories – the only collection she wrote – showcase Mortimer’s wicked wit and eye for human folly.’ – The i,
‘Mortimer’s style, spare and singular, cuts through the decades like a scalpel . . . She is so good. I can’t think of a writer more attentive to emotional weather.’ – Rachel Cooke, Observer
‘Devastating on domestic atrophy, flawed people, feminine rage that can barely find its words, warring couples, gloom and glamour. Aggressively perfect.’ – Jessie Burton
‘No one knows better how to catalogue in easy narrative the minutiae of domestic life or how to undermine domestic life’s apparent security.’ – Sunday Times
‘Mortimer peels several layers of skin off the subjects of motherhood, marriage, and monogamy.’ – Nick Hornby