This is Doris Lessing's first collection of short stories in some time and it is to be hoped that her audience in this country (she has always commanded considerable attention in England) will now, since The Golden Notebook, be more alert. Some of the stories here have had little magazine appearance (Partisan, Kenyan, Encounter, etc.) and for the most part there are fewer social inferences and political inflections than in her earlier books. In almost all cases they are sharply personal and inherently intense- intensity has always characterized her writing to an exceptional degree. Always- there is a terrible awareness of the exposed areas and lonely stretches in fairly ordinary lives: in One off the Short List a middle aged "impresario of other people's talent" attempts to seduce a bright young woman in the theatre and is shown up as a boor and a bore; in the title story, a woman's first baby is an alienating experience- for her husband; in England versus England there is a social concern, as a boy from the poverty of a mining town pays a high price for upward mobility--learning at Oxford; in Our Friend Judith, the cool, intellectual and "uncomforted" life of a spinster takes some surprising turns; and then there's the stifling sequestration of married life and motherhood- which drives a woman to the anonymity of a shabby hotel room in To Room Nineteen. Nineteen stories in all, which pinpoint and needle the anxieties, collisions, betrayals of emotional experience in disabused terms.