The Persephone Book of Short Stories: Nine Years is a Long Time by Norah Hoult


It wasn’t until October was well under way that she began to wonder that she had had no word from him. Even then she didn’t actually worry. He had probably gone on some business trip. Men in a good position, like he certainly was, often went away on business looking after their affairs. He might have gone to London: he was a member of some swell club there. That she did know, for he’d let out one day something about an important call being put through to his club in town, and he had had to return to Rotherfield sooner than he had expected.

So begins the short story Nine Years is a Long Time written by Norah Hoult in 1938.

Soon after I read that paragraph, I began to wonder about this mysterious man. Is he an estranged son or a married man with the narrator as his mistress? Perhaps he is a spy (not entirely implausible given the time period it was written in). Over the next seventeen pages, the mystery gets solved making this the most unusual short story I have read in a long time. I am not going to get into details about the plot. If you ever decide to read this, I want you to be awed by it like I was. 🙂

Most of the reviews I read agree that Nine Years is a Long Time is not an ordinary tale. Some had even found it to be mildly disturbing, but that is not a sentiment I share. I think wars make women tough, circumstances make women tough. With men away fighting, women have to to be both homemakers and breadwinners, so you do what you got to do to feed the hungry mouths. It ain’t a pretty picture, yet sure is a realistic one!


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