First off, let me say something I've said before to Matt in an email, this site truly redeems the internet. All of you downloading should support this site.
Now for this book. I couldn't agree more with Jim's review of this complete rubbish. What more can I add that he hasn't already said? Except that if this is what modern fiction is all about, then I'm sticking to the classics. This is a really bad collection, each story is a mess and ultimately pointless as Jim points out. Don't waste your time with it. There are millions of other books on this site - almost everything else is better than this literary diarrhea.
Only recently came across her work and was pleasantly surprised to find these stories fairly gripping little tales. I can recommend the collection on the strength of “the shadows on the wall” alone. You’ll probably be disappointed if you take your horror hard. Freeman takes a gentle suspenseful approach to the supernatural tale, but these stories are well worth reading, especially if you're a traditionalist. They are (most of them) tightly written considering the time they were written in, and it’s the interaction between the characters that stands out more than anything. You can just imagine these “little horrors" having happened in real life to real people at some time or other.
Country of the Blind is probably the best of the stories in this collection, but this lot is not representative of the quality of Wells' short work. The "country of the blind collection" contains some real gems; some of them, in my humble opinion, are masterpieces of the short story genre. Better to read that collection than this one.
I read this book in my late teens and was stunned by it. Some of the scenes are still fresh in my mind years later. Rask's growing madness, the poverty which is never dwelt on but always present, the torment of the characters, their desperate lives, and the emotion that runs through the whole thing like electricity ... there is so much of life in this old book, and I think almost everyone knows the plot by now. A very deep book, and not something to take with you on the beach! One minor point though, re-reading the book today, it seems a little baggy in places, like his other great works, and could benefit from some modern judicial editing maybe. I tried reading his other works (The Idiot etc.) but none of them quite did it for me the way this book did.
This is his masterpiece.