All posts tagged Pilgrims

Short Stories Challenge – Pilgrims by Julie Orringer from the collection How To Breathe Underwater

Published November 3, 2013 by bibliobeth


What’s Pilgrims all about?:

In her dazzling first book Julie Orringer dives into the private world of childhood and immerses us in its fears and longings. Pilgrims is told from the perspective of a child called Ella whose family are going to a Thanksgiving dinner at the house of people they barely seem to know. Her mother has cancer and is undergoing chemotherapy, and it is a heart-rending and uneasy account of how people deal with tragedy.

What did I think?:

This book was a gift for my birthday from my sister, and a perfect addition for my Short Story Challenge. The first story, Pilgrims is narrated by a young girl called Ella whom we meet on a car journey with her parents and younger brother to spend Thanksgiving with an unfamiliar group of people. Almost straight away we find out her mother has cancer and is having treatment which leaves her feeling tired and very unwell. Ella and her brother Benjamin are anxious about the visit, and are having difficulty coping with their mothers illness. They even have a special “knocking code” between their bedroom walls at home that tears at the heart-strings slightly: “one knock, I’m afraid, two knocks, Don’t worry; three knocks, Are you still awake? four, Come quick.” On arriving at the house, the reader realises that the other guests at the dinner are all unwell themselves, and being there is akin to a therapy session. While the group begins a meditation class, the children are pushed out to play with some motherless children who seem to think terrifying Ella and Benjamin by playing “hostages” is the order of the day.

The shocking conclusion to this story really surprised me, and had me thinking about it long after I had put the book down. Julie Orringer writes with such beautiful detail and poignancy that it really was a delight to read, and I found certain images sticking in my head and refusing to shift. I also believe that the author has captured the tragedy of illness and the awkwardness of childhood perfectly, and I look forward to reading the rest of the collection.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):


NEXT SHORT STORY: Her First Ball by Katherine Mansfield from the collection Stories To Get You Through The Night

Challenge: Short Stories October to December

Published October 4, 2013 by bibliobeth

What better way to end the year then by enjoying some more short stories? Here  is how I plan to spend the next three months:

Week beginning  7th October

Mr E. Morse, BA OXON (Failed) by Colin Dexter, from the collection The Mammoth Book of Best British Crime, Volume 7

Week beginning 14th October

Pilgrims by Julie Orringer from the collection How To Breathe Underwater

Week beginning 21st October

Her First Ball by Katherine Mansfield from the collection Stories To Get You Through The Night

Week beginning 28th October

Here There Be Tygers by Stephen King from the collection Skeleton Crew

Week beginning 4th November

Sister Hills by Nathan Englander from the collection What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank

Week beginning 11th November

Countless Stones by Lucy Wood from the collection Diving Belles

Week beginning 18th November

The Sea of Trees by Randy Taguchi from the collection Fujisan

Week beginning 25th November

Reeling for the Empire by Karen Russell from the collection Vampires in the Lemon Grove

Week beginning 2nd December

The Red-Headed League by Arthur Conan Doyle from the collection The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

Week beginning 9th December

The Beautiful Indifference by Sarah Hall from the collection The Beautiful Indifference

Week beginning 16th December

The Strange Career of Dr. Raju Gopalarajan by Rajesh Parameswaran from the collection I Am An Executioner

Week beginning 23rd December

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

Week beginning 30th December

In Winter The Sky by Jon McGregor from the collection This Isn’t The Sort of Thing That Happens To Someone Like You