The subtitle of this collection is "The Peacetime Stories of Mollie Panter-Downes." Persephone has of course also published a collection of her war-time stories, Good Evening, Mrs. Craven (which I wrote about here).
I may have mentioned this before, but I don't read a lot of short stories. For me, the reason is right there in the name: they're too short. They often feel slight, insubstantial, unsatisfying. It seems like I hardly have time to get to know the characters before their story is over. I'm almost always left wanting to know more. I suspect this is partly because I grew up reading books rather than story collections, and books in long series with continuing characters to boot. There was always another book, more to their story. The short stories I did read were generally mysteries, like Encyclopedia Brown or The Three Investigators, where the resolution of the mystery brought closure to the story - and where the characters then went off to their next adventure. As I look at my shelves today, I find only a handful of short-story collections, generally by authors whose novels I treasure (Anthony Trollope, P.G. Wodehouse, Dorothy Canfield, Connie Willis). Kipling would be another exception, at least for The Just-So Stories and The Jungle Books (some of which I still have to read, with his adult stories).
I bought a copy of Minnie's Room because I enjoyed Mollie Panter-Downes's novel One Fine Day and the war-time stories - and also because I was ordering a copy of London War Notes (still unread). The Persephone "Publisher's Note" points out that these ten stories, published in The New Yorker between 1947 and 1965, "are acute descriptions of a class and a nation in decline." They "explore this theme of the English middle class struggling to live in the same way that it had enjoyed before the war."
All of the stories are of course well-written, and even in just a few pages Panter-Downes manages to make her characters come alive to the reader. The stories I found most compelling were the two written in the first person, "What Are the Wild Waves Saying?" and "Intimations of Mortality." The second is about a young child and her nurse, Kate, who "supplied me...with vast quantities of tender, uncritical love, for which I was never sufficiently grateful..." One day, the unnamed narrator accompanies Kate to a shabby apartment, where an old woman lies ill. We see the scene through the child's eyes, narrated by her older self, understanding more than the child and even the adult narrator. "Beside the Still Waters" concerns adult children with an elderly mother needing care, and having been through a similar situation with my mother, I found their story felt very real, and timeless.
It is possible of course that I just haven't met the right authors of short stories, so as always recommendations are welcome.