“Period Piece” by an outstanding Anglo-Irish writer Joyce Cary is a humorous short story. It is basically about a respectable middle-aged man, Frank Tutin, who has fallen in love with his young secretary Phyllis. As a result Tutin wants to divorce his wife Clare, but the mother-in-law Mrs. Beer protests against it. The story begins with the fact that Tutin wants to leave his wife and three children after sixteen years of married life. Clare does not object and Tutin feels comfortable until his mother-in-law comes to London and makes a scene.
At first she breaks into Tutin’s office and says that he is selfish. Tutin does not share this point of view and he goes to Clare to have it out with her. Then Tutin learns that Mrs. Beer has visited Phyllis. The author describes the conversation between Tutin and Phyllis after this event. It is revealed that the only thing Phyllis loves is Tutin’s money. But it becomes clear to him only when Phyllis runs away with a young assistant film director. Clare forgives the husband and makes peace with him.
Then there’s a description of their family life seven years after the events. Tutin is happy enough not to feel sorry about his fate. The author ridicules old Mrs. Beer, who thinks that she is the one who has made Tutin return to Clare.
The story finishes in an atmosphere of calmness and contentment.