Monday, October 19, 2009

Short Story Monday/Victorian Values by H.R.F. Keating

This week's short story is an amusing and witty tale from H.R.F. Keating. The book is called In Kensington Gardens once..., and Victorian Values [written especially for the 1997 collection] is the first story in the book. It is told by the statue of Queen Victoria which is in the Gardens. She has looked upon humanity all these years since the statue was unveiled. She makes frequent comments on life and fashion in the late twentieth-century. The characters (the human ones) are a woman sitting on the bench in front of the statue, and a male pickpocket she watches a short distance away. Victoria sees a 'smile flit across her face' as the young woman watches the fruitless attempts of the young man. He is an utter failure at his work. Later in the story he sits down next to her, and Victoria knows he is going to try and steal from her. This is a purely delightful little fantasy. I found myself smiling throughout as Queen Victoria tells stories from her past, makes observations on the present, and frequently uses the 'royal we' as she refers to herself. She isn't pleased to hear someone say that a bird had made a 'streak right down her face.'

Without access to a looking-glass I had been unconscious of any such blemish, though for some considerable time past I had been just aware of a certain irregularity running down my right cheek.

The statue

The author

Short Story Monday is hosted by John at The Book Mine Set. You may go here to see other story choices this week.


  1. How interesting to tell a story from the perspective of a statue! This one sounds delightful.

  2. JoAnn, it was so much fun to read, and I've continued to think about it since I finished. Can't ask for anything better!

  3. Looking at the author's picture, I'm not surprised to hear it was fun!

  4. Exactly what I thought, John! I have more stories in the collection to read, and I also want to try his books. Here is a listing of his work:


  5. I read one of Keating's Inspector Ghote books recently and absolutely loved it. Definitely planning to read more.

  6. Nan - I was in Kensington Park Gardens recently for a tea at the Orangery and took the very same picture of Queen Victoria's statute!

  7. Cath, thank you so much for telling me. I wondered about them, and will be on the lookout for the first in the series.

    Elaine, may I say (yet again) how very lucky you are! :<)


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