In his introduction to this new Everyman’s Library collected edition, John Banville expresses envy for “those readers who have still to come to [Bowen’s stories] for the first time”. “There is not a story in this substantial volume […]that is not brought off beautifully,” he asserts. While superlative this is, for the most part, true. But the reader who comes to these 79 stories for the first time might feel a bit overwhelmed. The things that make Bowen’s work brilliant – her ability to shift between the interior and the exterior; her swift changes in point-of-view; her oscillations between storytelling and social commentary – are also what make it challenging. In a sense, to read Bowen you must already know her: you must have warmed up the right muscles and be prepared to read backwards as well as forwards. And sideways too.