‘The Sofa’ by Maeve Brennan

The Sofa by Maeve Brennan, 1968

The magic trick:

Showing how something so simple could be a major event in the house

In a group of quiet stories, this one is particularly so.

Here’s a plot summary for you: Mrs. Bagot and her daughters await the delivery of a sofa to their home. Then the sofa arrives.

The end.

A rousing page turner this is not.

The lack of action, in this case, though is kind of the point.

We see Mrs. Bagot thrill at the idea of this new sofa. She feels great pride in and a tremendous sense of peace about the way the sofa will tie the room the together.

Her joy is sweet – until it’s sad.

We see her, too, panic as she worries that the sofa delivery may tatter the material or scuff the walls. The stakes are so low it’s endearing – until it’s sad.

This is Mrs. Bagot’s life.

And that’s quite a trick on Brennan’s part.

The selection:

They were all afraid the men would drop the sofa and break its legs.

“I hope they don’t drag it across the top of the railing and tear the underneath part,” Mrs. Bagot said. She was trembling. “Listen to me,” she said to the children. “We have to be very careful not to get in the men’s way. When the sofa starts coming through the gate, you two run back and sit on the stairs. That way we’ll leave the hall free and clear and there won’t be any damage and the men will have room to move around. Now, are you listening to me – when they get it to the gate, we’ll all go back.”

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