Lucy Wood

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Short Stories Challenge 2017 – Part Five

Published November 5, 2017 by bibliobeth

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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.

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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):

four-stars_0

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

 

 

Short Stories Challenge 2017 – Part One

Published January 7, 2017 by bibliobeth

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Its a new year and time for some more short stories. I usually do short stories in three month blocks however I’ve been struggling to keep up with this so instead of calling this post January to March I shall call it Part One and see how I get on! This is what I’ll be reading in the first half of 2017:

The Raft by Stephen King from the collection Skeleton Crew

The Butcher Of Meena Creek by Dianne Gray from the collection Manslaughter And Other Tears

The Wishing Tree by Lucy Wood from the collection Diving Belles

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

Double Room by Ramsey Campbell from the collection The New Uncanny: Tales Of Unease edited by Sarah Eyre and Ra Page

The Adventure Of The Engineer’s Thumb by Arthur Conan Doyle from the collection The Adventures Of Sherlock Holmes

Erase Me: Positron, Episode Three – Margaret Atwood (stand-alone)

On The Banks Of Table River: (Planet Lucina, Andromeda Galaxy, AD 2319) by Rajesh Parameswaran from the collection I Am An Executioner: Love Stories

The Passenger by Kevin Brockmeier from the collection Things That Fall From The Sky

Fleeing Complexity by Jon McGregor from the collection This Isn’t The Sort Of Thing That Happens To Someone Like You

Short Stories Challenge – Notes From The House Spirits by Lucy Wood from the collection Diving Belles

Published June 11, 2016 by bibliobeth

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What’s Notes From The House Spirits all about?:

This is a short story from the point of view of the little guardians and protectors of one particular house which sees many people come and go over the years as they continue to look after it in their own small ways.

What did I think?:

I read Notes From The House Spirits a while back I think, before embarking on this short stories challenge, but I couldn’t remember much about it except that I very much enjoyed it and it was one of my main reasons for buying this collection as a whole so I was looking forward to re-visiting it. Once again, Lucy Wood does not disappoint with beautiful prose and a story so convincing that you could almost believe these little creatures actually exist! Ever had that feeling that you’re being watched in your own home even though it is empty? It could be the house spirits, interested in what you’re doing and checking that you’re taking care of the house properly.

We see a number of years pass by surprisingly quickly in one particular property where the house spirits have been resident as long as they can remember. In fact, they can’t quite remember how they came into being – was it when the house was built? Are they part of the wood, the bricks, the walls? They can’t quite say but their sole purpose is to look after the house itself and ensure the residents are treating it correctly. They remember times when the house has been empty and at first, they welcome the peace and tranquillity but soon start to miss familiar noises or familiar people.

The spirits, as you may imagine are a teensy bit neurotic and when a new person comes to the house, they literally wring their hands over things they do (or more precisely what they don’t do!) and although they are fairly limited in what they can do with the house, they can do small things like straighten the shower curtain so it doesn’t go mouldy, push leaves back through the letterbox and make books slip off a shelf if they don’t think the shelf has been seated correctly and is in danger of falling. Not much escapes their beady eyes but they are shocked to discover one day when the sofa is moved, a small collection of disgusting butterballs (butter dipped in sugar) that their previous tenant used to give guests when they came over to visit and their guests promptly slipped down the back of the sofa when her back was turned.

We see quite a lot of different people come and go and even a few changes made to the house like a wall being knocked down which our spirits are very upset about! I loved that we saw a particular family which were clearly there for many years, from the start of their relationship to when they have a child to when the child grows up and leaves. This all seems to happen in no time at all for the spirits and although initially they are very suspicious and declare: “We don’t like them,” to each new tenant/family, they soon develop a strange fondness for them and it becomes almost alien when the house is left empty once more then they have to get used to a whole new set of residents.

This is a beautiful little story and once again reveals the vast imagination and talent of the author, Lucy Wood. It’s a story that I’ve read a few times now just to savour it and each time I read it I seem to find something new to think about in the narrative. Each time I’ve finished it I’ve felt slightly bereft, wondering what these fictional little house spirits will make of their new residents and I believe that’s a true testament to the amazing writing.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

NEXT SHORT STORY: How I Finally Lost My Heart by Doris Lessing from the collection The Story: Love, Loss And The Lives Of Women

 

Short Stories Challenge 2016 – January to March

Published January 9, 2016 by bibliobeth

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Image from http://quotes.lifehack.org/quote/ali-smith/short-stories-consume-you-faster-theyre-connected/

Hooray for a new year and more short stories! This is what I’ll be reading for the first three months of 2016.

Week beginning 4th January 2016

Duet by Kate Mosse from the collection The Mistletoe Bride And Other Haunting Tales

Week beginning 11th January 2016

The Music of Bengt Karlsson, Murderer by John Ajvide Lindqvist from the collection A Book Of Horrors

Week beginning 18th January 2016

Dreams In The Witch-House by H.P. Lovecraft from the collection The Definitive H.P. Lovecraft

Week beginning 25th January 2016

Enough Of This Shit Already by Tony Black from the collection The Mammoth Book Of Best British Crime Volume 7

Week beginning 1st February 2016

Stars Of Motown Shining Bright by Julie Orringer from the collection How To Breathe Underwater

Week beginning 8th February 2016

Charm For A Friend With A Lump by Helen Simpson from the collection Stories To Get You Through The Night

Week beginning 15th February 2016

Paranoid: A Chant by Stephen King from the collection Skeleton Crew

Week beginning 22nd February 2016

Still Life by Dianne Gray from the collection Manslaughter And Other Tears

Week beginning 29th February 2016

Notes From The House Spirits by Lucy Wood from the collection Diving Belles

Week beginning 7th March 2016

How I Finally Lost My Heart by Doris Lessing from the collection The Story: Love, Loss And The Lives Of Women

Week beginning 14th March 2016

The Graveless Doll Of Eric Mutis by Karen Russell from the collection Vampires In The Lemon Grove

Week beginning 21st March 2016

The Adventure Of The Speckled Band by Arthur Conan Doyle from the collection The Adventures Of Sherlock Holmes

Week beginning 28th March 2016

Choke Collar: Positron, Episode Two by Margaret Atwood (stand-alone)