Lucy Wood

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Short Stories Challenge 2018 – Some Drolls Are Like That And Some Are Like This by Lucy Wood from the collection Diving Belles.

Published July 8, 2018 by bibliobeth

What’s Some Drolls Are Like That And Some Are Like This all about?:

This story follows a wandering story teller as he takes a couple of tourists on a tour around his local area, telling old stories along the way.

What did I think?:

As the final story in this collection, I have to admit I was expecting something quite majestic. Unfortunately, it didn’t quite end on the note I was anticipating – rather than Notes From The House Spirits which I thoroughly enjoyed, I found myself rather underwhelmed by the story chosen to be the finale of the entire collection. Of course, there is no denying the magical, whimsical nature of Lucy Wood’s writing and as always, I appreciated the nod to Cornish folklore and her ability to spout words like poetry but compared to other stories I’ve read by her, this was rather a damp squib in comparison.

Lucy Wood, author of the short story collection Diving Belles.

Due to the quirky nature of Lucy’s writing, I’m struggling to describe what exactly this story is about in more than a few sentences but I’ll try my best. It follows a droll (Cornish word for a travelling story teller), who comes across two tourists willing to pay him for a tour and to tell stories along the way – old legends, ghostly happenings and the like. As he’s often homeless and uncertain of where his next meal is coming from, he gladly agrees but during the tour he begins to realise something is seriously wrong. Although he is suggested to have one hundred years experience of the town, its people and its tall tales, he can’t seem to remember any of the stories he once knew so well in any great detail. Images keep coming to his mind of things that might have happened, some of them horrific (or are they just stories?) and he appears to be getting quite befuddled about how much of his knowledge is fact and how much is fiction.

Beautiful Cornwall, the inspiration and setting for the stories in this collection.

So, I finished the story about ten minutes ago and knew I’d have to write my review immediately as I would lose track of what it was actually about. Not much more goes on than what I told you and to be perfectly honest, the ending was so abrupt, I’m finding it difficult to recall what actually happened. Lucy Wood has a bit of a pattern with ending her stories quite suddenly, often without resolution or answers and most of the time, I find this works really well but there’s other times where you just wonder what the whole point was in the first place.

This story isn’t bad, by any stretch of the imagination. I’ve certainly read a lot worse and I must stress that the writing is truly beautiful. I loved the way that the droll is compared to a tree, even his skin beginning to resemble the furrows of wood and later on, he finds moss in his fingernails which also harks back to the symbolism of a tree. Is he really as old as he is? Who knows? There’s a lot of magical realism thematically throughout this collection and it’s quite conceivable that he could be a different entity that has known a man who fought in the Napoleonic Wars as he suggests. I think the problem with this story for me was that I just didn’t feel anything for it. It didn’t move me, I didn’t connect with the characters and sadly, I just didn’t really “get” what the author was trying to say.

Overall, if you enjoy magical realism and stories steeped in folklore this is a great collection as a whole, it’s just a shame I gravitated towards other tales other than this one.

Would I recommend it?:

Maybe!

Star rating (out of 5):

3 Star Rating Clip Art

NEXT SHORT STORY: The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter from the collection The Story: Love, Loss & The Lives Of Women.

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Short Stories Challenge 2018 – Part Two

Published April 2, 2018 by bibliobeth

Hello everyone and welcome to the second part of my Short Stories Challenge for 2018. I have to admit, I’m feeling a little disillusioned writing this post and preparing which short stories I’m going to read for the next few months as in Part One earlier this year, I had so many disappointments and very few stellar stories that stood out to me. I think the biggest failures for me would have to be The Balloon Hoax by Edgar Allan Poe and Books And Roses by Helen Oyeyemi but I could mention a few more. However, let’s end on a positive – there was the wonderful The Apple Tree by Daphne du Maurier and Dibblespin by Angela Slatter which completely restored my faith in short stories. It is because of stories like these that I want to carry on with this challenge and find more great authors like the many, many ones I’ve found so far, purely from their short fiction alone. Let’s do this!

Four Hundred Rabbits by Simon Levack from the collection The Mammoth Book Of Best British Crime Vol 7.

20th Century Ghost by Joe Hill from the collection 20th Century Ghosts.

The Coincidence Of The Arts by Martin Amis from the collection Stories To Get You Through The Night.

Beachworld by Stephen King from the collection Skeleton Crew.

Set-Up by Dianne Gray from the collection Manslaughter And Other Tears.

Some Drolls Are Like That And Some Are Like This by Lucy Wood from the collection Diving Belles.

The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter from the collection The Story: Love, Loss & The Lives Of Women.

The Underhouse by Gerard Woodward from the collection The New Uncanny: Tales Of Unease edited by Sarah Eyre and Ra Page.

The Adventure Of The Copper Beeches by Arthur Conan Doyle from the collection The Adventures Of Sherlock Holmes.

My Mother’s Wedding by Tessa Hadley from the collection Reader, I Married Him: Stories Inspired by Jane Eyre edited by Tracy Chevalier.

 

Short Stories Challenge 2017 – Wisht by Lucy Wood from the collection Diving Belles

Published November 23, 2017 by bibliobeth

What’s Wisht all about?:

Wisht follows our young female protagonist as she accompanies her father on a walk through the moor one night, fearful of the legend of the Wisht Hounds.

What did I think?:

Now that I’ve read the penultimate story in this collection, I’m starting to think back on all the stories and gather my thoughts on the collection as a whole. There’s no denying that it’s a gorgeous piece of fiction, especially for a debut work and obviously, I loved that Lucy Wood used the setting of Cornwall and Cornish folklore to bring an extra mythical or otherworldly edge to her tales. As with many short story collections that I’ve read, unfortunately there are some stories that just don’t grab my attention as much as others and I’m sorry to say Wisht was one of those. There are many positive things to be taken from it which I’ll talk about later but generally, I found this story to be slightly forgettable and I think generally speaking there’s better stories that showcase the author’s talent much more effectively.

Wisht is about a young girl who seems to live alone with her father (her mother is never mentioned in the narrative which I found slightly odd). Her father tends to go out at night on long walks over the moor and although he checks she is asleep before he leaves, she is pretending and watches out of the window until she sees the light of the torch as he returns. She is incredibly protective of him and worries about the amount of weight he has lost – perhaps this is down to bereavement and the loss of his wife? Who knows? We are never told. One evening however, he wakes his daughter up and asks her to accompany him on his nightly walk where they have a tender moment right at the very end of the narrative.

That’s it, basically. Nothing much happens, even on the walk. Oh, her father falls over once and tells his daughter to be careful lest she fall over herself. Also she keeps hearing howling which she is certain is the legendary Wisht Hounds that roam the moors at night, looking for human subjects to devour. However, we don’t really get much more about the Wisht Hounds apart from that which was a bit of a shame as I found them to be quite an interesting part of the story. I did love the relationship between father and daughter, even finding myself a bit envious of the unconditional love they obviously have for each other and I adored how protective she was of her father, worrying for him as he went into the Hounds territory but savvy enough to not let him see how concerned she was about him. Personally, this was just a “meh” story for me. The writing is undeniably beautiful, like all of Lucy Wood’s writing in this collection and, as I mentioned, I thought the Wisht Hounds mystery was quite exciting but sadly never developed as fully as I would have hoped. Nevertheless, I am still looking forward to the final story in this collection as I do enjoy the way the author uses stunning prose and magical folklore to tell a contemporary story.

Would I recommend it?:

Not sure.

Star rating (out of 5):

3 Star Rating Clip Art

NEXT SHORT STORY: The Man From Mars by Margaret Atwood from the collection The Story: Love, Loss & The Lives Of Women.

 

Short Stories Challenge 2017 – Part Five

Published November 5, 2017 by bibliobeth

Image from: http://www.creativindie.com/how-to-make-money-by-publishing-and-selling-short-stories-and-short-books-on-amazon/

Hello everyone and welcome to the fifth part of my Short Stories Challenge in 2017. My fourth part was quite like the third, up and down. I had a huge disappointment with a short story by Daphne du Maurier which was Monte Verità but I also got some lovely surprises in the form of The House On The Hill by Kate Mosse and The Man In The Ditch by Lisa Tuttle. Here’s what I’ll be reading in the next few months:

Best New Horror by Joe Hill from the collection 20th Century Ghosts.

The Moons Of Jupiter by Alice Munro from the collection Stories To Get You Through The Night.

The Man Who Would Not Shake Hands by Stephen King from the collection Skeleton Crew.

Unplugged by Dianne Gray from the collection Manslaughter And Other Tears.

Wisht by Lucy Wood from the collection Diving Belles.

The Man From Mars by Margaret Atwood from the collection The Story: Love, Loss & The Lives Of Women.

Seeing Double by Sara Maitland from the collection The New Uncanny: Tales Of Unease edited by Sarah Eyre and Ra Page.

The Adventure Of The Beryl Coronet by Arthur Conan Doyle from the collection The Adventures Of Sherlock Holmes.

Freaks: A Rizzoli & Isles Short Story by Tess Gerritsen (stand-alone).

High House by Rosy Thornton from the collection Sandlands.

Short Stories Challenge 2017 – Blue Moon by Lucy Wood from the collection Diving Belles.

Published August 1, 2017 by bibliobeth

What’s Blue Moon all about?:

Blue Moon follows our narrator who works in a very unique nursing home where its residents have magical abilities.

What did I think?:

Generally speaking, I’ve been hugely impressed with the quality of writing and the fairy-tale nature of Lucy Wood’s beautiful collection, Diving Belles. There have been a couple of stories that I’ve felt have ended too abruptly but the vast majority of them have been wonderful and means I would definitely recommend this collection for any fans of magical realism or anything other-worldly. Lucy Wood expertly weaves Cornish folklore into this collection in a way that makes each story feel like a fantasy but at the same time very real, a tough task to accomplish I’m sure but she does it with ease. Blue Moon is another fantastic example of the surreal, lyrical nature that has characterised this whole collection and the beauty of the language just washed over me and made reading this story an absolute pleasure.

When we first start reading, our narrator, who works at Blue Moon nursing home is attempting to calm down a very anxious hare in a bedroom. Within a few lines and by the narrator addressing the hare as Mrs Tivoli, we soon realise that Mrs Tivoli is a witch and a shape-shifter, normally taking human form but she has recently had a visitor and something has happened that has frightened or upset her so badly that she has transformed herself into a hare and seems to have lost control of her senses. Our narrator soon takes us back in time, explaining what has precipitated these events and it’s a magical tale of a very odd nursing home that takes in residents with magical powers. Dealing with these residents is not easy as our narrator is well aware but Mrs Tivoli has taken a particular shine to her and opens up to her about her life, her losses and her regrets which she keeps in a series of bottles. The smaller regrets are in larger bottles, her biggest regrets are in smaller sized bottles – the biggest regret of all is in a nail varnish bottle and it is this bottle that Mrs Tivoli opens one day just before her visitor arrives to show our narrator that precipitates her frantic transformation.

It’s only as I’m writing this review up now that I’m starting to appreciate how brilliant this story actually is. Imagine keeping all your regrets in your life in bottles within a drawer by your bedside. Any time you want you can open one of these bottles, view a memory and re-live those feelings you felt when a particular thing happened to you that you feel remorse for. It doesn’t bear thinking about! I adored the magical elements of this story, in particular Mrs Tivoli and her opinionated pet catfish Maria but as I mentioned, the most beautiful thing about this story is the writing which flows like water and is so descriptive. It’s like the author thought long and hard about each word she chose before writing it and her consideration over what she chose is obvious as each word is perfect. Lucy Wood does have a habit of ending each story quite abruptly, leaving the reader feeling like there is unfinished business but I have to be honest. In this story, it really worked. I would have loved to know what happened next to Mrs Tivoli and her mysterious visitor but, in the end, it just makes it more poignant that we don’t know and have to guess for ourselves.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

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NEXT SHORT STORY: Master by Angela Carter from the collection The Story: Love, Loss & The Lives of Women.

Short Stories Challenge 2017 – Part Three

Published July 8, 2017 by bibliobeth

Image from https://www.standoutbooks.com/how-publish-short-story/

Hello everyone and welcome to Part Three of my Short Stories Challenge this year. Part Two was again, very interesting with some really memorable stories read, namely The Birds by Daphne du Maurier and Gallowberries by Angela Slatter which were both fantastic and HIGHLY recommended. Here’s to finding some more great short stories and authors in Part Three!

An Anxious Man by James Lasdun from the collection Stories To Get You Through The Night.

Word Processor Of The Gods by Stephen King from the collection Skeleton Crew.

Hot Dog Stand by Dianne Gray from the collection Manslaughter And Other Tears.

Blue Moon by Lucy Wood from the collection Diving Belles.

Master by Angela Carter from the collection The Story: Love, Loss & The Lives of Women.

Possum by Matthew Holness from the collection The New Uncanny: Tales Of Unease edited by Sarah Eyre and Ra Page.

The Adventure Of The Noble Bachelor by Arthur Conan Doyle from the collection The Adventures Of Sherlock Holmes.

The Heart Goes Last: Positron, Episode Four by Margaret Atwood (stand-alone).

The White Doe by Rosy Thornton from the collection Sandlands.

The Light Through The Window by Kevin Brockmeier from the collection Things That Fall From The Sky.

Short Stories Challenge 2017 – The Wishing Tree by Lucy Wood from the collection Diving Belles

Published February 22, 2017 by bibliobeth

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What’s The Wishing Tree all about?:

The Wishing Tree focuses on the relationship between a mother and a daughter as they struggle through a traumatic time and make an important journey that begins to build bridges between them.

What did I think?:

I’ve waxed on previously about stories in this beautiful collection that have been written so lyrically and have really touched something deep within myself. However, there are always going to be those stories that don’t quite hit the spot, so as to speak and unfortunately The Wishing Tree was one of those. On reading the title, I admit I was stupidly excited, expecting a story with a bit of a fairy tale element. Of course, the Cornish folklore that the author draws upon is present and the landscape she writes about is breathtaking and captured my attention in that way but for some reason, I just didn’t feel connected with the two main characters which left what happened between them at the end feeling like a bit of a “damp squib,” than a moving, tear-jerking incident which I think the author intended.

The story follows Tessa and her mother June who are on their way to visit an old friend, a trip they have made previously. The reader immediately senses that all is not right with June from the scar on her neck and the way her daughter refers to her. They have made this trip previously and on the first trip came across a wishing tree which they happen upon once more, filled with offerings that previous wishers have left on its branches. Tessa recalls how she was struggling to think of a wish the first time they visited and now regrets it. We get the feeling that there is a very clear thing that she should have wished for – her mother’s health.

Throughout the story, we get the impression that the two have quite a fractured and fragile relationship with June taking the typical role of “strong mother,” and Tessa being that child that always needed help (and indeed does still as an adult). Now that June is ill, the roles are having to be reversed even though June is fighting it with every fibre of her being. The story ends with Tessa finally being able to help her mother in the best way she can and June learning to accept her help.

There were a multitude of brilliant things about this story. First, the way it was written as with all of Lucy Wood’s stories – it was beautiful, descriptive and poetic, I could almost imagine every character and scene vividly. I did also love how she explored the relationship between Tessa and June and how we left them, albeit abruptly, with more hope for their future. Personally though, I felt quite distant from the two throughout the narrative and didn’t really feel like I knew them so the ending when it came, as a result did not touch me as much as it might have done if I had cared deeply about the characters. Strangely enough I also wanted the wishing tree to form a bigger part of the story and was perhaps a little disappointed when it didn’t! 😀

Saying that, I do think that this story will touch others, especially if they are struggling with an ill parent or have parental relationship issues of their own. For me, there are much better stories in this collection which had a greater impact and lasting effect.

Would I recommend it?:

Maybe!

Star rating (out of 5):

3 Star Rating Clip Art

NEXT SHORT STORY: Faithful Lovers by Margaret Drabble from the collection The Story: Love Loss & The Lives Of Women