Short stories

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Book Tag – Shelfie By Shelfie #15 – Stephen King Shelf 2

Published April 2, 2019 by bibliobeth

Hi everyone and welcome to a brand new tag – Shelfie by Shelfie that I was inspired to create late one night when I couldn’t sleep. If you want to join in, you share a picture (or “shelfie”) of one of your shelves i.e. favourites, TBR, however you like to organise them, and then answer ten questions that are based around that particular shelf. I have quite a large collection and am going to do every single bookshelf which comprises both my huge TBR and the books I’ve read and kept but please, don’t feel obliged to do every shelf yourself if you fancy doing this tag. I’d love to see anything and just a snapshot of your collection would be terrific and I’m sure, really interesting for other people to see!

For other shelfies I’ve completed and for Shelfie by Shelfie posts round the blogosphere, please see my page HERE.

Anyway – on with the tag, it’s time for the fourth shelf of my second bookshelf (my second Stephen King shelf) and we’re looking at the middle part of the images.

And here are the questions!:

1.) Is there any reason for this shelf being organised the way it is or is it purely random?

It’s my second Stephen King shelf so er…mostly Stephen King! Eagle eyed readers may have spotted a couple of Joe Hill’s books sneaking into the mix but I’ve decided that’s allowed – he’s family after all as Stephen King’s son!

2.) Tell us a story about one of the books on this shelf that is special to you i.e. how you got it/ a memory associated with it etc.

I think I’m going to talk about Sleeping Beauties by Stephen King and his other son Owen King (which is STILL unread and I’m getting rather cross with myself that I haven’t picked it up yet!). It is one of the most gorgeous hardbacks I think I’ve ever seen and every time I see it, I get a big grin across my face. My long suffering other half, Mr B actually bought this book for me after I had gone through a really hard time with multiple miscarriages so this book will always be special to me for that reason and the fact it’s King of course!

3.) Which book from this shelf would you ditch if you were forced to and why?

Ugh. If I had to? I think my least favourite from this shelf in particular would be Blaze which King wrote under the pseudonym Richard Bachman. It isn’t one of his better known books and I can see the reason for that – it wasn’t that great. Sad face.

4.) Which book from this shelf would you save in an emergency and why?

Sleeping Beauties for the reason mentioned above but if I had to choose something different it would be the early Bachman books which consists of Rage, The Long Walk, Roadwork and The Running Man. Rage in particular was a bit of a difficult find for me as King pulled it from all future publication due to the fact that he wrote it about a school shooter. It’s certainly a harrowing read.

5.) Which book has been on this shelf for the longest time?

I think it might be either The Shining which is my original copy or the dual short story collection Skeleton Crew and Different Seasons which I’ve had for years and adore.

6.) Which book is the newest addition to this shelf?

Funnily enough, it’s not a Stephen King (shock horror!). The latest buy on this shelf is Joe Hill’s Strange Weather which I’m really looking forward to reading. At some point. #bookwormproblems.

7.) Which book from this shelf are you most excited to read (or re-read if this is a favourites shelf?)

We’re back to Sleeping Beauties again! Can you tell I really need to read this book?! If not that, I’d be interested to read Haunted Heart: The Life And Times Of Stephen King by Lisa Rogak to learn more about the great man behind some of my favourite books in the world.

8.) If there is an object on this shelf apart from books, tell us the story behind it.

There’s a few objects on this shelf as it’s not as cluttered as my previous bookshelf so I’ll go through a couple of them for you. First we have my Spring/Summer scented candles – how very topical and timely of me!

Then there’s my “feminist” badges which I picked up at a Caitlin Moran event a few years ago now. I think they speak for themselves?

9.) What does this shelf tell us about you as a reader?

Perhaps that I love Stephen King? Um….and candles. And I’m a feminist?!

10.) Choose other bloggers to tag or choose a free question you make up yourself.

I won’t tag anyone but if anyone wants to do this tag, I’d be delighted and I’d love to see your shelfie.

COMING SOON ON bibliobeth: Shelfie By Shelfie #15 – The Agatha Christie Shelf

 

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Banned Books 2019 – JANUARY READ – Make Something Up: Stories You Can’t Unread by Chuck Palahniuk

Published January 28, 2019 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

Stories you’ll never forget—just try—from literature’s favorite transgressive author

Representing work that spans several years, Make Something Up is a compilation of 21 stories and one novella (some previously published, some not) that will disturb and delight. The absurdity of both life and death are on full display; in “Zombies,” the best and brightest of a high school prep school become tragically addicted to the latest drug craze: electric shocks from cardiac defibrillators. In “Knock, Knock,” a son hopes to tell one last off-color joke to a father in his final moments, while in “Tunnel of Love,” a massage therapist runs the curious practice of providing ‘relief’ to dying clients. And in “Expedition,” fans will be thrilled to find to see a side of Tyler Durden never seen before in a precursor story to Fight Club.

Funny, caustic, bizarre, poignant; these stories represent everything readers have come to love and expect from Chuck Palahniuk. They have all the impact of a sharp blow to the solar plexus, with considerable collateral damage to the funny bone.

Logo designed by Luna’s Little Library

Welcome to the first banned book in our series for 2019! As always, we’ll be looking at why the book was challenged, how/if things have changed since the book was originally published and our own opinions on the book. Here’s what we’ll be reading for the rest of the year:

FEBRUARY: Northern Lights/The Golden Compass– Philip Pullman

MARCH: Uncle Bobby’s Wedding– Sarah S. Brannen

APRIL: We All Fall Down- Robert Cormier

MAY: Crazy Lady– Jane Leslie Conley

JUNE: Arming America: The Origins of a National Gun Culture– Michael A. Bellesiles

JULY: In The Night Kitchen- Maurice Sendak

AUGUST: Whale Talk– Chris Crutcher

SEPTEMBER: The Hunger Games- Suzanne Collins

OCTOBER: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn- Mark Twain

NOVEMBER: To Kill A Mockingbird- Harper Lee

DECEMBER: Revolutionary Voices- edited by Amy Sonnie

But back to this month….

Make Something Up: Stories You Can’t Unread by Chuck Palahniuk

First published: 2015

In the Top Ten most frequently challenged books in 2016 (source)

Reasons: profanity, sexual explicitness and being “disgusting and all around offensive.”

Do you understand or agree with any of the reasons for the book being challenged when it was originally published?

BETH: As this collection was first published only a few years ago now, my answers for the first two questions in this post are going to be similar as it’s a relatively recent release. I have to be honest and say I had a really hard time reading this book and am now having an even tougher time trying to answer these questions. If you follow our Banned Books series I think you’ll probably realise that I don’t think any book should be challenged or banned however if it were a situation within a school library, perhaps access should be monitored when we think about more controversial books. However, I haven’t read that many banned books in this series so far where I think access should be limited – perhaps apart from the graphic novel Saga in a primary school situation. This is one of those cases where I think (in my personal opinion) that Stories You Can’t Unread isn’t particularly suitable in an educational setting. That is not to say I agree with it being challenged or banned, I think I’ve already made my opinion clear on that but with this collection, I can unfortunately see why parents might have issues with it if their child brought it home from the library.

CHRISSI: In an educational setting, I can totally understand why it’s challenged/banned. I don’t think I’d feel comfortable with teenagers reading this book. I, myself, felt very uncomfortable through several of the stories. I think the author has an incredibly aggressive writing style, that I couldn’t get on with. Would I want it to be banned in general? No. The author clearly has an audience and I imagine so many would enjoy his writing. Me, however? No. It’s certainly not for me. I could barely read some of them because they were incredibly twisted. I like twisted but there’s a line, for me personally, and I think this book crossed that line.

How about now?

BETH: Should Stories You Can’t Unread be challenged/banned? Well, no I believe people should be able to access all works of literature if they want and not be subject to rules or regulations that prevent them having that freedom of choice. Do I agree with the reasons that it was challenged? Well, not agree but it’s one of those rare times that I do understand the potential problems that this collection has raised. I don’t have a particular issue with profanity but I know a lot of people do and this collection doesn’t hold back on that count. The same is true for sexuality which can be incredibly graphic in some of the stories and not necessarily to everyone’s taste as some of the tales are quite twisted regarding sex. I’m not easily offended and the stories in this book didn’t shock me so as to speak but I did find myself reading some of them with a little bit of a grimace nevertheless. Especially the stallion story – say no more!

CHRISSI: Like Beth, I’m not easily offended. Yet, there’s something about this book that didn’t sit right for me. There’s too way much content that could offend others and the writing style just made me feel uneasy. I know the author makes you want to feel that way and he was highly successful with this book. I don’t think any book should be banned because I believe every person should be able to read what they want. However, challenged in education? Yes.

What did you think of this book?:

BETH: I think the thing is with Chuck Palahniuk is that he likes being shocking and deliberately controversial. You have to take the stories you read in here with a pinch of salt, open your mind as wide as it could possibly go and prepare to be a little bit grossed out by what you’re about to read. If that’s not your thing and you are sensitive or easily offended, this collection definitely isn’t for you. I like to think of myself as quite open-minded and I only had a very strong reaction to a couple of the stories in this book but my problem was that there only seemed to be a few pieces that I genuinely felt interested in. The rest of the stories just didn’t seem as well constructed and none of them (even the intriguing ones) ended satisfactorily which was just frustrating for me as a reader. I’ve still to read some of the author’s novels but as a short story writer, I just don’t think he’s for me.

CHRISSI: I didn’t like it at all. I don’t often come out and say that. I usually look for positives, however, for me, I felt too uncomfortable and I didn’t enjoy the author’s tone.

Would you recommend it?:

BETH: Probably not.

CHRISSI: It’s not for me!- I couldn’t get into the author’s writing style and certainly won’t be reading more from him.

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COMING UP IN FEBRUARY ON BANNED BOOKS: Northern Lights/The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman.

Uncommon Type: Some Stories – Tom Hanks

Published December 12, 2018 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

A collection of seventeen wonderful short stories showing that two-time Oscar winner Tom Hanks is as talented a writer as he is an actor.

A gentle Eastern European immigrant arrives in New York City after his family and his life have been torn apart by his country’s civil war. A man who loves to bowl rolls a perfect game–and then another and then another and then many more in a row until he winds up ESPN’s newest celebrity, and he must decide if the combination of perfection and celebrity has ruined the thing he loves. An eccentric billionaire and his faithful executive assistant venture into America looking for acquisitions and discover a down and out motel, romance, and a bit of real life. These are just some of the tales Tom Hanks tells in this first collection of his short stories. They are surprising, intelligent, heartwarming, and, for the millions and millions of Tom Hanks fans, an absolute must-have!

Featuring additional performances by Peter Gerety, Peter Scolari, Cecily Strong, Holland Taylor, and Wilmer Valderrama on “Stay With Us.”

What did I think?:

When famous actor Tom Hanks released his first collection of short stories I have to say I was a little sceptical and wasn’t sure I would be rushing to read it. Two things changed that for me – firstly, I started to see the positive reviews come flooding in and secondly, Richard and Judy chose it for their book club here in the UK. I tend to follow their lists every season and most of them I review with my sister and fellow blogger Chrissi Reads in our “Talking About” feature. So….the million dollar question, can Tom Hanks write? The answer is simple, yes he can. As with most short story collections I read, I connected with some stories more than others but there were a few stand-out pieces of work that were incredibly memorable and made me realise that Hanks does indeed have a talent for story-telling.

Tom Hanks, Hollywood actor and author of Uncommon Type: Some Stories.

In Uncommon Type, the stories all share one common theme. Somewhere within the narrative, a typewriter is referenced. It may be purchased, used by our characters or referred to but either way, it is a prominent feature of each short story. For another fun fact, apparently Hanks actually wrote this entire collection on his very own beloved typewriter which brings another nice little connection to the proceedings! The stories within this book are about very ordinary people doing everyday things and provides a slice of their life in a defining moment of their history which had the effect of feeling like you’re experiencing each character’s intimate and private moments.

As I mentioned earlier, there are a couple of gems in this collection, namely “Christmas Eve 1953” which follows a veteran called Virgil who makes a routine call every Christmas to a fellow veteran. Personally, I found this to be the strongest story in the collection, I adored Virgil as a character and thought he had amazing depth and heart as the reader explores his colourful and heart-breaking past. “Welcome To Mars,” the story of a nineteen year old boy celebrating his birthday surfing with his father and how their relationship alters within moments was also another blindingly good piece of work and clearly demonstrates how much subtle emotion Hanks can place into his fiction in such a short space of time. Finally there is “The Past Is Important To Us,” a wonderful mixture of historical fiction, fantasy and science fiction where a man travels back to 1939 over and over again in search of just a little more time with a particular woman.

Tom Hanks’ love for New York, the myriad of interesting and fascinating people that live there and his own knowledge and experience over the years is prominent throughout this collection. He comes across as remarkably down-to-earth, intelligent and warm-hearted and I felt as if through these short stories, I was getting a deeper insight into what he’s like as a person, divorced from his Hollywood persona and fame. It’s not a perfect collection and there were a few instances where I felt his character development or plot needed a bit of fine-tuning and finessing but for a debut offering, the strength of the stories I’ve mentioned above made for a generally enjoyable reading experience. I’ll certainly be interested to see what he writes next, especially if the quality of his next work matches the stories in Uncommon Type that I really loved.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

3-5-stars

Friday Black – Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah

Published October 24, 2018 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

In the stories of Adjei-Brenyah’s debut, an amusement park lets players enter augmented reality to hunt terrorists or shoot intruders played by minority actors, a school shooting results in both the victim and gunman stuck in a shared purgatory, and an author sells his soul to a many-tongued god.

Adjei-Brenyah’s writing will grab you, haunt you, enrage, and invigorate you. By placing ordinary characters in extraordinary situations, Adjei-Brenyah reveals the violence, injustice, and painful absurdities that black men and women contend with every day. These stories tackle urgent instances of racism and cultural unrest and explore the many ways we fight for humanity in an unforgiving world.

What did I think?:

This review comes with a huge thank you to Quercus Books whom at a recent “Word-Of-Mouth Bestsellers Evening” kindly provided me with a copy of this book in a fun little “blind date,” where the book was wrapped up in standard brown paper with a few teasing pieces of information on the front to suggest what might be inside. If you follow me on Instagram/Twitter you might have already seen what was there but for those of you who don’t I’ll just mention it here briefly because it was what was said on the front that made me desperate to find out exactly what the package contained. Endorsed by both Roxane Gay and George Saunders (if this isn’t accolade enough in itself?) it was described as being “a punchy short story collection examining racial injustice in modern America.” Buzzfeed also called it “Black Mirror-esque.” With these two exhilarating statements I knew I was in for something very unique and noteworthy and once I opened it and was faced with that stunning cover design and a synopsis that knocked my socks off I knew that I was a very lucky girl indeed and this collection was going to be nothing short of monumental.

Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah, author of the short story collection, Friday Black.

So, I had already suspected that I was in for a wild ride with this collection but even then, I still wasn’t fully prepared for the journey it would take me on both emotionally and intellectually. I don’t want to talk about any individual story too much and ruin the pleasure other readers are going to get from this astounding debut but it’s honestly one of those books where after you read it, you feel a little changed as a person. The collection opens in the most gut-wrenching and shocking manner with a story called The Finkelstein 5 (possibly my favourite story of them all) and to give you an idea of the personal impact on me I’ll give you a taster of the first few lines:

“Fela, the headless girl, walked toward Emmanuel. Her neck jagged with red savagery. She was silent, but he could feel her waiting for him to do something, anything.”

You know when you start reading something and you get this instinct that what you’re about to witness in the form of devouring these words is going to be incredible and unforgettable? That’s what The Finkelstein 5 was for me and it was impossible to resist as soon as I had read that outrageous (but brilliant!) first paragraph. From this first story onwards, each of the other tales stands on their own individually and proudly as a true testament to the sheer strength and beauty of Adjei-Brenyah’s writing style. Many stories verge on the dystopian and fantastical but frighteningly, many of them actually feel realistic. It’s easy to imagine these horrific instances of racism, prejudice and brutality occurring if the technology mentioned in one particular story – “Zimmer Land” is used in a malicious way to justify abhorrent racist attitudes.

One of the stories in this collection, Friday Black imagines the retail event Black Friday in a particularly violent fashion. This particular image I discovered from Black Friday 2017 in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

I had a sneaky suspicion that I was going to adore Friday Black and I wasn’t wrong. It’s fairly rare that I feel inspired to tweet, especially after a short story but in this case, The Finkelstein 5 had such an enormous impact on me I immediately had to tell the whole world about it. It was so powerful in both its scope and intensity that I couldn’t fail to be affected and was the perfect way to begin a staggeringly good collection. Yes, there’s always the worry that the following stories won’t live up to the brilliance of the first but I was delighted to discover that almost every single tale afterwards left some sort of footprint in my mind.

I was completely prepared to be moved, haunted and dumbfounded but I wasn’t expecting things to get so emotional and there was a particular story – “Lark Street” that absolutely destroyed me and left me a sobbing mess. I really can’t say anymore but if any regular readers are aware of my personal struggles the past eighteen months or so, I’m sure you’ll understand. Amidst this devastation however, I couldn’t help but be in complete awe of this writer’s talent, his ability with words, his imagination and creativity and the way in which he managed to make me feel so much, in very different ways with each of his stories. Thought-provoking and highly original, this is short story collection you really can’t afford to miss!

Published by riverrun publishers, an imprint of Quercus Books, Friday Black is out NOW.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

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Short Stories Challenge 2018 – Part Three

Published October 23, 2018 by bibliobeth

Hello everyone and welcome to my third instalment of what I’ll be reading short story wise for the rest of this year. I mentioned in my Short Stories Challenge Part Two all the way back in April that I was becoming quite disillusioned with short stories. I had read a few that I hadn’t connected as well with as others and it was becoming less enjoyable to read them. At the moment, I’m feeling pretty much the same. I have read some great short stories since April including Set-Up by Dianne Gray and The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter however I’ve also read a couple where I didn’t get on so well with them i.e. The Coincidence Of The Arts by Martin Amis and Four Hundred Rabbits by Simon Levack. I understand that I’m not going to enjoy every single short story that I come across but I’m hoping for great things this time around. At this moment in time, I should be on Part Four of my Short Stories Challenge and I’m only on Part Three. This is because I’m just not feeling motivated to pick up a short story each week like I had planned to do. Ah well, fingers crossed for these!

Ringing Night by Rosy Thornton from the collection Sandlands.

Safe Passage by Ramona Ausubel from the collection A Guide To Being Born.

The Chicken And The Egg by Jon McGregor from the collection This Isn’t The Sort Of Thing That Happens To Someone Like You.

“Sorry” Doesn’t Sweeten Her Tea by Helen Oyeyemi from the collection What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours.

The Little Photographer by Daphne du Maurier from the collection The Birds And Other Stories.

The Purloined Letter by Edgar Allan Poe from the collection The Best Short Stories Of Edgar Allan Poe.

The Navigator by Angela Slatter from the collection Sourdough And Other Stories.

The Small Hand by Susan Hill (stand-alone).

Sainte-Thérèse by Kate Mosse from the collection The Mistletoe Bride And Other Haunting Tales.

Sad, Dark Thing by Michael Marshall Smith from the collection A Book Of Horrors.

Mini Pin-It Reviews #26 – Four Random Books

Published October 14, 2018 by bibliobeth

Hello everyone and welcome to another mini pin-it reviews post! I have a massive backlog of reviews and this is my way of trying to get on top of things a bit. This isn’t to say I didn’t like some of these books – my star rating is a more accurate reflection of this, but this is a great, snappy way of getting my thoughts across and decreasing my backlog a bit. This time I’ve got four YA novels for you – please see my pin-it thoughts below!

1.) It’ll Ease The Pain: Collected Poems And Short Stories – Frank J. Edwards

What’s it all about?:

In an age of hyperbole and phoniness, Frank J. Edwards creates images and narratives that ring true, yet reveal life to be more interesting than we realized. Even if we have seen hundreds of TV shows about emergency departments, Edwards’ story “It’ll Ease the Pain” paints a portrait of one doctor’s 24-hour stint that is fresh and unforgettable.

Would I recommend it?:

Maybe!

Star rating (out of 5):

3 Star Rating Clip Art

2.) The Princess Saves Herself In This One (Women Are Some Kind Of Magic #1) – Amanda Lovelace

What’s it all about?:

“Ah, life- the thing that happens to us while we’re off somewhere else blowing on dandelions & wishing ourselves into the pages of our favorite fairy tales.”

A poetry collection divided into four different parts: the princess, the damsel, the queen, & you. the princess, the damsel, & the queen piece together the life of the author in three stages, while you serves as a note to the reader & all of humankind. Explores life & all of its love, loss, grief, healing, empowerment, & inspirations.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

3.) Admissions: A Life In Brain Surgery – Henry Marsh

What’s it all about?:

Henry Marsh has spent a lifetime operating on the surgical front line. There have been exhilarating highs and devastating lows, but his love for the practice of neurosurgery has never wavered.

Following the publication of his celebrated New York Times bestseller Do No Harm, Marsh retired from his full-time job in England to work pro bono in Ukraine and Nepal. In Admissions, he describes the difficulties of working in these troubled, impoverished countries and the further insights it has given him into the practice of medicine.

Marsh also faces up to the burden of responsibility that can come with trying to reduce human suffering. Unearthing memories of his early days as a medical student and the experiences that shaped him as a young surgeon, he explores the difficulties of a profession that deals in probabilities rather than certainties and where the overwhelming urge to prolong life can come at a tragic cost for patients and those who love them.

Reflecting on what forty years of handling the human brain has taught him, Marsh finds a different purpose in life as he approaches the end of his professional career and a fresh understanding of what matters to us all in the end.

Would I recommend it?:

Maybe!

Star rating (out of 5):

3 Star Rating Clip Art

4.) How To Be Human: The Manual by Ruby Wax

What’s it all about?:

It took us 4 billion years to evolve to where we are now. No question, anyone reading this has won the evolutionary Hunger Games by the fact you’re on all twos and not some fossil. This should make us all the happiest species alive – most of us aren’t, what’s gone wrong? We’ve started treating ourselves more like machines and less like humans. We’re so used to upgrading things like our iPhones: as soon as the new one comes out, we don’t think twice, we dump it. (Many people I know are now on iWife4 or iHusband8, the motto being, if it’s new, it’s better.)

We can’t stop the future from arriving, no matter what drugs we’re on. But even if nearly every part of us becomes robotic, we’ll still, fingers crossed, have our minds, which, hopefully, we’ll be able use for things like compassion, rather than chasing what’s ‘better’, and if we can do that we’re on the yellow brick road to happiness.

I wrote this book with a little help from a monk, who explains how the mind works, and also gives some mindfulness exercises, and a neuroscientist who explains what makes us ‘us’ in the brain. We answer every question you’ve ever had about: evolution, thoughts, emotions, the body, addictions, relationships, kids, the future and compassion. How to be Human is extremely funny, true and the only manual you’ll need to help you upgrade your mind as much as you’ve upgraded your iPhone.

Would I recommend it?:

Maybe!

Star rating (out of 5):

3 Star Rating Clip Art

COMING UP NEXT TIME ON MINI PIN-IT REVIEWS: Four Graphic Novels.

Short Stories Challenge 2018 – My Mother’s Wedding by Tessa Hadley from the collection Reader, I Married Him: Stories Inspired by Jane Eyre edited by Tracy Chevalier.

Published October 7, 2018 by bibliobeth

What’s My Mother’s Wedding all about?:

My Mother’s Wedding follows our young female protagonist, Jane at her mother’s wedding and the life-altering choices that are made that day.

What did I think?:

I’ve had my beady little eye on this collection for the longest time and I’m delighted it’s finally time to enter it into my Short Stories Challenge and enjoy fiction from a number of celebrated authors including the author of this piece, Tessa Hadley as well as Sarah Hall, Evie Wyld, Susan Hill, Lionel Shriver and Audrey Niffenegger to name a few and as the ones I’ve mentioned are some of my favourite female voices, I knew I was in for a treat with this collection. Edited by Tracy Chevalier, the idea is that each of the authors has been given Jane Eyre’s most notorious line: “Reader, I Married Him,” and allowed to let their imaginations run wild. I thought this was a fantastic idea and was really looking forward to seeing how each writer would use that infamous statement to tell their own story whilst maintaining the spirit and essence of Jane Eyre and indeed, of Charlotte Bronte as an author herself.

Tessa Hadley, author of the short story, My Mother’s Wedding.

Our story begins as you may have guessed by the title, in the run up to a wedding, one of which our female protagonist Jane (or Janey as she is known) is not looking forward to. The wedding is her mother’s and she is not marrying Jane’s father or the father of Jane’s half-siblings but a much younger man called Patrick. The family live a carefree, bohemian existence in the Welsh countryside and are often looked down on by other members of the community for their open and nonchalant ways but all individuals in the family appear to be content with their lot. This is until the day of the wedding however, when after much merriment (and maybe a bit too much home made mead!), tensions begin to bubble to the surface, secrets are revealed and decisions are made that will affect the dynamics of the family forever.

The beautiful Welsh countryside, where our story is set.

This little story kind of sneaked up and surprised me a little bit and as I’m always delighted by the unexpected, this was a very welcome turn of events for me personally as a reader. At the beginning, it feels kind of cosy, happy and languid with plenty of beautiful descriptions of nature, the weather and the surrounding area although before long, we begin to sense that there may be undercurrents of anguish below the serenity on the outside. My favourite thing about this story though was the way in which Tessa Hadley used the line: “Reader, I Married Him,” as a very particular nod to Jane Eyre and her creator Bronte, whom at the time was admired as brave and independent for this utterance considering women’s position in society at the time. That is to say, Bronte didn’t fall back on “we married,” or “he married me,” but made a definitive statement that it was HER particular choice to marry not that of her eventual husband, Mr Rochester.

Without giving anything away, Hadley uses this idea to illustrate in My Mother’s Wedding the decisions that are made in the story without having to actually have her characters say the line at any time. The way everything unravelled, particularly by the end, felt different, felt interesting and was a novel take on such a celebrated literary quote in history.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

3-5-stars

NEXT SHORT STORY: Ringing Night by Rosy Thornton from the collection Sandlands.