Michel Faber

All posts tagged Michel Faber

Short Stories Challenge 2015 – January to March

Published January 9, 2015 by bibliobeth

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Another year over, and a new year of short stories begins! Here’s what I’m going to be reading each week until the end of March.

Week beginning 5th January

Magpies by Lucy Wood from the collection Diving Belles

Week beginning 12th January

A Married Man’s Story by Katherine Mansfield from the collection The Story, Love, Loss & The Lives of Women 100 Great Short Stories chosen by Victoria Hislop

Week beginning 19th January

The Barn At The End Of Our Term by Karen Russell from the collection Vampires In The Lemon Grove

Week beginning 26th January

The Five Orange Pips by Arthur Conan Doyle from the collection The Adventures Of Sherlock Holmes

Week beginning 1st February

She Murdered Mortal He by Sarah Hall from the collection The Beautiful Indifference

Week beginning 8th February

Demons by Rajesh Parameswaran from the collection I Am An Executioner

Week beginning 15th February

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

Week beginning 22nd February

Keeping Watch Over The Sheep by Jon McGregor from the collection This Isn’t The Sort Of Thing That Happens To Someone Like You

Week beginning 1st March

The Archduchess by Daphne du Maurier from the collection The Breaking Point

Week beginning 8th March

The Oversoul by Graham Joyce from the collection Tales For A Dark Evening

Week beginning 15th March

The Apple by Michel Faber from the collection The Apple: Crimson Petal Stories

Week beginning 22nd March

Martin Misunderstood by Karin Slaughter (stand-alone)

Week beginning 29th March

Cellists by Kazuo Ishiguro from the collection Nocturnes: Five Stories Of Music and Nightfall

Short Stories Challenge – The Fly, and Its Effect upon Mr Bodley by Michel Faber from the collection The Apple: New Crimson Petal Stories

Published November 20, 2014 by bibliobeth

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What’s The Fly, and Its Effect upon Mr Bodley all about?:

Michel Faber revisits the world of his bestselling novel The Crimson Petal and the White, conjuring tantalising glimpses of its characters, their lives before we first met them and their intriguing futures. You’ll be desperate for more by the time you reluctantly re-emerge into the twenty-first century. The Fly, and Its Effect Upon Mr Bodley follows Mr Bodley as he has an epiphany on life after watching a fly in the most peculiar of places.

What did I think?:

I’ve had a bit of trouble deciding how exactly I’m going to write this review but I’m going to carry on typing and see where the momentum takes me! Our main character is Mr Bodley, a regular “user” of the prostitutes at the infamous Mrs Tremain’s brothel in Fitzrovia. One morning, Mrs Tremain opens her door to a quite different gentleman, “bleary-eyed,” and “desperate-looking,” which is considerably different from his usual demeanour. Furthermore, it is rather early on the whole for him to be contemplating a bit of a good time and he is without his partner in crime and best friend Mr Ashwell which in itself is rather disturbing as the two men are known to be inseparable. Upon further interrogation, it is clear that something terrible must have happened to Mr Bodley:

“The willingness of comely girls, the novelty of foreign flesh, the smell of strawberries – none of these things can mean anything to me now… In this house, the candleflame of my manhood was snuffed out.”

Of course this is incredibly worrying for Mrs Tremain, Mr Bodley being one of her best customers and all, so she begs him to tell him what has happened so she may set it right. He explains that when he was last at the house and things began to get er… slightly more intimate with one of the girls, a fly came in and settled itself on her left buttock. Mrs Tremain’s defence of her establishment is one of the most hilarious passages I have read:

“We keep a clean house, sir. The Queen’s palace won’t be so clean, I’ll wager. But we must keep it ventilated, sir. That’s part of good health: ventilation. And where there’s an open window, a fly may enter. And even be so bold as to settle on a girl’s bottom.”

But Mr Bodley does not think it is the fly so much, after all he left feeling rather satisfied, job completed. It is only afterwards that he begins thinking about things more deeply. Flies and what they feed on, flies laying eggs, and how when we die our decomposing bodies crawl with maggots that arise from the eggs that are laid by flies! Even the offer from Mrs Tremain of the same girl who she assures him is very much alive and maggoty-free, or a new girl, Lily free of charge cannot tempt him or cheer him in any way. We live, then we die – what is the point in it all? Luckily for him, Mrs Tremain has an answer and a prescription for his melancholy that has him soon sleeping soundly, quite literally.

I think as with all the stories in this collection, you need to have read the author’s fantastic novel, The Crimson Petal And The White, as it involves the same characters. Fans of The Crimson will love it and the humour in it is knock your socks off, laugh out loud funny, so is definitely worth a read. I also love that Michel Faber is not afraid to explore the dark side of human nature, take a few risks and be blatantly crude in places. However, it probably isn’t for the easily offended or innocent! Really enjoying this collection so far, and looking forward to the next.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

3-5-stars

NEXT SHORT STORY: Busted by Karin Slaughter (stand-alone)

 

Challenge: Short Stories October to December

Published October 9, 2014 by bibliobeth

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It’s that time again short story fans! This is what I’ll be reading short story wise from now until the end of 2014.

Week beginning 6th October

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

Week beginning 13th October

The Pool by Daphne Du Maurier from the collection The Breaking Point

Week beginning 20th October

Partial Eclipse by Graham Joyce from the collection Tales For A Dark Evening

Week beginning 27th October

The Fly And Its Effect Upon Mr Bodley by Michel Faber from the collection The Apple: New Crimson Petal Stories

Week beginning 3rd November

Busted by Karin Slaughter (stand-alone)

Week beginning 10th November

Nocturne by Kazuo Ishiguro from the collection Nocturnes: Five Stories Of Music And Nightfall

Week beginning 17th November

The Coffin-Maker’s Daughter by Angela Slatter from the collection A Book Of Horrors

Week beginning 24th November

The Call of Cthulhu by H.P. Lovecraft from the collection The Definitive H.P. Lovecraft

Week beginning 1st December

The Common Enemy by Natasha Cooper from the collection The Mammoth Book Of Best British Crime Volume 7

Week beginning 8th December

Note To Sixth-Grade Self by Julie Orringer from the collection How To Breathe Underwater

Week beginning 15th December

A Terribly Strange Bed by Wilkie Collins from the collection Stories To Get You Through The Night

Week beginning 22nd December

Mrs Todd’s Shortcut by Stephen King from the collection Skeleton Crew

Week beginning 29th December

Everything I Knew About My Family On My Mother’s Side by Nathan Englander from the collection What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank

Short Stories Challenge – Chocolate Hearts From The New World by Michel Faber from the collection The Apple: New Crimson Petal Stories

Published June 17, 2014 by bibliobeth

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What’s Chocolate Hearts From The New World all about?:

Michel Faber revisits the world of his bestselling novel The Crimson Petal and the White, conjuring tantalising glimpses of its characters, their lives before we first met them and their intriguing futures. You’ll be desperate for more by the time you reluctantly re-emerge into the twenty-first century.

This story involves the characters of Dr Curlew and his daughter Emmeline who is a strident protester against slavery, and centres on a letter that she receives from one of the men she writes to in the hope that he will free the slaves he employs.

What did I think?:

Chocolate Hearts From The New World is the third story in Michel Faber’s collection that offers the reader the opportunity to re-visit beloved characters from the marvellous novel The Crimson Petal and the White. Some of the stories in this collection take on the characters past and some the future, which is a brilliant touch in my opinion by the author in giving die-hard Crimson Petal fans a bit more information about the unforgettable and sometimes eccentric people in the novel. The characters in this story are Dr Curlew who was the Rackham family physician, and his daughter Emmeline – often cruelly described as “horse-faced.” It looks back on her adolescent years where her father was desperately worried that she only had five good years left to find a husband, even to the point where he describes her as his “unfortunate” daughter. You see:

“The same physical features that made him such a distinguished-looking man – tall, rangy build, aquiline nose, long face, strong jaw – were a calamitous inheritance for a girl. If she acted quickly, while she was in her teens, there was still hope.”

Charming, you might think! But he redeems himself slightly when he suggests that she is “blameless,” it was him after all that passed the infamous jaw down to her and declares that when she smiles she is quite winsome with dimples in her cheeks, bright eyes, an unlined face and glossy hair. It is obvious that he loves his daughter a great deal as although he is worried for her marriage prospects as he refuses to argue with her on the subject as that would have upset his late wife. His hopes are buoyed however when he learns that she has been corresponding with a few men in America – even if it is merely to chide them on their use of slaves, quoting passages from the Bible and pleading to their better nature.

I really enjoyed the character of Emmeline in this short story, she seems independent, spirited and while respectful of her father, able to voice and be confident in her own opinion. It was quite amusing to read that when she got a few heated replies to her many letters, she was able to write back saying that she hoped that the Lord would forgive them “for your unkind and, if I may say so, blasphemous words…”  Then comes a rather different reply that Emmeline has not bargained for consisting of a long letter with the gentleman’s reasoning behind his choice to employ slaves, a bit of flattery, a bit of hope for the future (especially from Dr Curlew’s point of view!) and best of all, a box of expensive looking chocolates. What’s a girl to do?

This was a lovely little story that I enjoyed more and more as I continued to think about it, and is another example of some beautiful and introspective writing from Michel Faber. With his writing, even with the short stories, it almost feels like you are sat at a table with the characters, or are listening to them as their closest confidant. I am eagerly anticipating the next story in the collection which concerns Mr Bodley, William Rackham’s obnoxious friend whom I remember vividly and with slight disgust from the novel.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

NEXT SHORT STORY: Snatched by Karin Slaughter (stand-alone)

Challenge: Short Stories April to June

Published April 1, 2014 by bibliobeth

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The year is going really quickly so far and these are the short stories that will keep me entertained until the end of June!

Week beginning 7th April

Jamila by Randy Taguchi from the collection Fujisan

Week beginning 14th April

The Seagull Army Descends on Strong Beach, 1979 by Karen Russell from the collection Vampires in the Lemon Grove

Week beginning 21st April

A Case of Identity by Arthur Conan Doyle from the collection The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

Week beginning 28th April

Bees by Sarah Hall from the collection The Beautiful Indifference

Week beginning 5th May

Four Rajeshes by Rajesh Parameswaran from the collection I Am An Executioner: Love Stories

Week beginning 12th May

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

Week beginning 19th May

She Was Looking For This Coat by Jon McGregor from the collection This Isn’t The Sort Of Thing That Happens To Someone Like You

Week beginning 26th May

Ganymede by Daphne du Maurier from the collection The Breaking Point

Week beginning 2nd June

Xenos Beach by Graham Joyce from the collection Tales For A Dark Evening

Week beginning 9th June

Chocolate Hearts From The New World by Michel Faber from the collection The Apple: New Crimson Petal Stories

Week beginning 16th June

Snatched by Karin Slaughter (stand-alone)

Week beginning 23rd June

Malvern Hills by Kazuo Ishiguro from the collection Nocturnes: Five Stories of Music and Nightfall

Week beginning 30th June

Ghosts With Teeth by Peter Crowther from the collection A Book of Horrors

Short Stories Challenge – Clara And The Rat Man by Michel Faber from the collection The Apple: Crimson Petal Stories

Published January 28, 2014 by bibliobeth

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What’s Clara And The Rat Man all about?:

Michel Faber revisits the world of his bestselling novel The Crimson Petal and the White, conjuring tantalising glimpses of its characters, their lives before we first met them and their intriguing futures. You’ll be desperate for more by the time you reluctantly re-emerge into the twenty-first century. Meet Clara, a prostitute with a rather strange request from a client that leads her to a rat pit of all places!

What did I think?:

From the beginning, this story had real potential as I love the style of writing Michel Faber uses when taking us back to a filthy and poverty-stricken Victorian London. We are introduced to Clara, a young woman who used to have a slightly higher social standing as a ladies maid (Mrs Rackham for the Crimson Petal fans), however she has fallen from grace and must resort to selling her body so that she can pay her rent and barely survive in a cruel and dangerous time. On one of her daily searches for a punter, she encounters a man who does not seem like your ordinary client (in that he has no interest in sleeping with her) but offers her a shilling every week if she will let a nail on one of her fingers grow. He then proceeds to meet her every week to check on her nail progress, and gives her money if it has not been bitten or broken.

I don’t really want to say too much more about the plot, however if you are at all familiar with Faber’s Crimson Petal and The White, which I recommend reading before these short stories, you will understand that it’s not for the faint-hearted! I’m a big fan of the novel and its variety of tantalising characters, and enjoyed reading about what happened to Clara after she was dismissed from the Rackhams. The Rat Man client is definitely one of those characters where you have to gulp hard before you can continue reading, and I loved that the author clawed that emotion out of me, while leading me to feel fairly sorry for him at the end. However, I was really disappointed by the ending which left me slightly cold, expecting a bit more. Oh well, onto the next!

Would I recommend it?:

Probably!

Star rating (out of 5):

3 Star Rating Clip Art

Challenge: Short Stories January to March

Published January 1, 2014 by bibliobeth

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Hello 2014! I absolutely loved my Short Stories Challenge which I started last year. I found lots of new authors, and a new found respect for short stories in general. So here we go again…..

Week beginning 6th January

The Blue Lenses by Daphne du Maurier from the collection The Breaking Point

Week beginning 13th January

Black Dust by Graham Joyce from the collection Tales for a Dark Evening

Week beginning 20th January

Clara and the Rat Man by Michel Faber from the collection The Apple: Crimson Petal Stories

Week beginning 27th January

Cold Cold Heart by Karin Slaughter (stand-alone)

Week beginning 3rd February

Come Rain or Come Shine by Kazuo Ishiguro from the collection Nocturnes: Five Stories of Music and Nightfall

Week beginning 10th February

Charcloth, Firesteel and Flint by Caitlin R. Kiernan from the collection A Book of Horrors

Week beginning 17th February

The Festival by H.P. Lovecraft from the collection The Definitive H.P. Lovecraft

Week beginning 24th February

Ghosts by John Harvey from the collection The Mammoth Book of  Best British Crime Volume 7

Week beginning 3rd March

When She Is Old and I Am Famous by Julie Orringer from the collection How to Breathe Underwater

Week beginning 10th March

The Student by Anton Chekhov from the collection Stories To Get You Through The Night

Week beginning 17th March

The Monkey by Stephen King from the collection Skeleton Crew

Week beginning 24th March

How We Avenged the Blums by Nathan Englander from the collection What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank

Week beginning 31st March

Of Mothers and Little People by Lucy Wood from the collection Diving Belles

Short Stories Challenge – Christmas In Silver Street, Michel Faber from the collection The Apple: New Crimson Petal Stories

Published September 12, 2013 by bibliobeth

The Apple: New Crimson Petal Stories

What’s Christmas In Silver Street all about?:

In this collection, Michael Faber revisits the world of his bestselling novel, “The Crimson Petal & White”, briefly opening doors onto the lives of its characters to give us tantalising glimpses of where they sprang from and what happened to them. In the first story – Christmas on Silver Street everyone’s favourite prostitute Sugar takes pity on the small boy who works in the brothel, and aims to give him a Christmas he will never forget.

What did I think?:

When I first saw this short story collection by Michel Faber, I knew I had to have it. I thoroughly enjoyed The Crimson Petal & White when I first read it a few years ago, and felt quite bereft at its ending. Now Sugar and the gang are back, giving us an exciting insight into their hard and impoverished lives in a cruel 19th Century world once more. The first story is incredibly short, (perhaps a bit too short?) which makes it a bit difficult to review on its own, but is quite a heart-warming tale, and a nice introduction and re-visit of the characters. It is Christmas, and Sugar feels desperately sorry for Christopher, a young boy who works at the brothel she lives and works in. He has the unenviable job of collecting the dirty sheets from the working girls, and taking them to be laundered. When he talks to Sugar about Christmas, she realises that he has never had a Christmas present and does not know the luxury or delight of Christmas dinner, so resolves to go out and procure some items to make it a decent Christmas for him. This is a wonderful ruse by the author of showing the reader the sentimental side of Sugar, which we rarely see, as she has to be focused on “business” for her customers. I think the reader does benefit from having read Faber’s original novel (or at least having seen the recent TV series), but I was slightly disappointed by how short this story was. On a positive note however, it has made me eager to finish the collection, and I am looking forward to the rest of the stories.

Would I recommend it?:

Probably!

Star rating (out of 5):

3 Star Rating Clip Art

NEXT SHORT STORY: The Blessing of Brokenness by Karin Slaughter (stand-alone)

Challenge: Short Stories August to September

Published August 1, 2013 by bibliobeth

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The Challenge:

The first two months of my short story challenge (please see my previous post HERE) have been quite fruitful! I have discovered new authors and an appreciation of the short story that I did not have up until now. Here’s to the next two months!

A Two Month Plan – August to September

Week beginning 5th August

These Hands – Kevin Brockmeier from the collection Things That Fall From The Sky

Week beginning 12th August

That Colour – Jon McGregor from the collection This Isn’t The Sort of Thing That Happens To Someone Like You

Week beginning 19th August

The Alibi – Daphne Du Maurier from the collection The Breaking Point

Week beginning 26th August

Leningrad Nights – Graham Joyce from the collection Tales For A Dark Evening

Week beginning 2nd September

Christmas in Silver Street – Michel Faber from the collection The Apple: Crimson Petal Stories

Week beginning 9th September

The Blessing of Brokenness – Karin Slaughter (stand-alone)

Week beginning 16th September

Crooner – Kazuo Ishiguro from the collection Nocturnes: Five Stories of Music and Nightfall

Week beginning 23rd September

The Little Green God of Agony – Stephen King from the collection A Book of Horrors

Week beginning 30th September

The Nameless City – H.P. Lovecraft from the collection The Definitive H.P. Lovecraft