The Bedroom of the Mister’s Wife

Philip Hensher

Like the room from which it takes its title, THE BEDROOM OF THE MISTER ‘S WIFE is a book full of secrets, partly revealed, partly concealed. A young couple are destroyed by the simple temptations of the ideal home; a shy Italian ends up in a stranger’s hospital room when he rings a telephone number left in his back pocket; after a late-night excursion to Hampstead Heath; Stalin’s daughter changes the life of a Cambridge painter with the gift of a fridge; and a German police officer spends a day posing as a terrorist, discovering new possibilities within herself. In this collection of thirteen stories, discrete and contained lives brush up against each other. With unerring precision, Hensher focuses on the small moments when lives alter, his characters enacting their quiet tragedies in rooms and streets which have the crystal clarity of dreamscapes and where banality can assume almost operatic proportions.