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For those who find extended reading in GCSE English a struggle, hearing one of these 12 complete stories, a Katherine Mansfield or a Kate Chopin, is a huge head start. Elizabeth Gaskell always spins a gripping yarn, and Eve Karpf's sympathetic voice and authentic accent make the love and loss in The Sexton's Hero accessible.
A selection of the American stories here would sui mature GCSE students where time does not allow study of a full novel. In Charlotte Perkins Gilman's The Yellow Wall-Paper a young wife becomes increasingly obsessed with the wallpaper in the room where her adoring husband has incarcerated his "little goose". The narration gives the tale remarkable immediacy and students will pick up the clues to the reality of the wife's situation. The variety of structure and theme in the collection also make it useful for the Short Story option in AS English.
Rachel Redford is a principle examiner GCSE English