Short Stories Challenge – Of Mothers And Little People by Lucy Wood from the collection Diving Belles

Published April 3, 2014 by bibliobeth

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What’s Of Mothers and Little People all about?:

In these stories, Cornish folklore slips into everyday life. Hopes, regrets and memories are entangled with catfish, wrecker’s lamps, standing stones and baying hounds, and relationships wax and wane in the glow of a moonlit sea. This luminous, startling and utterly spellbinding debut collection introduces in Lucy Wood a spectacular new voice in contemporary British fiction. Of Mothers and Little People involves a daughter returning to her family home to see her mother where she undergoes a strange experience by seeing a whole new invisible world surrounding her mother and protecting her from loneliness.

What did I think?:

I was initially attracted to this collection of short stories because it delves into the magic and mystical which make a great escape from the traumas and monotony of everyday life. Of Mothers and Little People introduces us to a daughter who is returning home to visit her mother who lives alone having been separated from her husband for some time. It is clear from the beginning of the story that the daughter is desperately worried and slightly guilty about her mother being by herself and wants to “banish all those lonely, quiet moments that you imagine are like cobwebs nestling in every corner of the house.”  She finds her mother up in the bathroom talking to herself which does not seem strange as she has always done that and then watches her put a cream over her eyelids that make them shimmer then turn the whites of her eyes green for a split second. We then find out the reason for the daughters particular visit this day, her father is getting re-married and her mother has invited him and his wife-to-be over for a celebratory meal. The daughter is there for some moral support for her mother and even suggests that her mother should bring a date – it is obvious she feels quite bitter towards her father for the break-up of the marriage.

Later that night when her mother is asleep, the daughter also smears the cream her mother had been using across her eyelids and is immediately overcome by pain. Splashing her face with water she notes that the whites of her eyes flashed green for a split second and when she looks around the house things appear to have changed. There is ivy creeping up the bannister and empty vases which her mother has always had around the house are filled with flowers. The strangest thing however happens the next morning when she goes into the kitchen to see a strange man dressed in green with his hands on her mothers shoulders. Her mother seems to know he is there as she often reaches up and touches his hands but does not acknowledge to her daughter that he is present. This is when the daughter remembers that there were stories in her childhood of her mother going missing for long periods of time and there were rumours that she had to help the “little people in the woods look after the babies.” The celebratory dinner with the ex-husband/father and his new wife goes well, although the daughter notes that the strange man is always present and seems to be a comfort and reassurance to her mother, making her re-evaluate her assumption that her mother was lonely.

Hopefully this is a good synopsis of the story but if I continue much longer I’ll end up telling all of it and that would defeat the purpose of recommending it to read! It’s beautifully written as were the other Lucy Wood stories in this collection so far, and I loved the way the author brought the world of Cornish folklore combined with a little bit of magic to life. I ended up reading this story twice, and found it even more enthralling on the second read through so if you like stories with a bit of a fairytale element that let you escape to a different world, this is the book for you.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):


NEXT SHORT STORY: Jamila by Randy Taguchi from the collection Fujisan


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