Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Diving Belles

Oh Diving Belles, how I love thee so.

I would leave the review at that but I accept that it won't help you much. Diving Belles is a beautiful short story collection by Lucy Wood that weaves the sea, the land, the people and the mythology of Cornwall into enchanting yet modern tales.

There are tales of husbands lost at sea but not lost forever. The wife that takes a trip in a diving bell for one last encounter. The house, slowly reclaimed by the sea. The pagan care home. Tales of the young and of the old. Yet they feel very grounded in everyday life. The woman who is turning into stone checks that there's nothing in the fridge that will go off whilst she's otherwise engaged.

Notes from the House Spirits is probably my favourite story. Told from the point of view of the house or the spirits of the house, they watch humans come and go. They don't see things quite the same way we would yet they record the history of the house and its inhabitants. Odd that this is the least Cornish of the stories yet I absolutely adored her descriptions of the sea and coast in the others. The house could reside anywhere, though it does feel like a rural setting. I've always been fond of novels where the house is almost a character in the story so for one to revolve around it was a treat.

Even the placement of the final story is fitting, showing that it is a combined piece of work and not a random collection of short prose. The droll seems to pull together elements of the stories and also give the sense of an ending. Indeed, this quote may echo some of your feelings as you reach the end:

So, he had let the stories slip away. They weren't buried anywhere. He thought they might have been buried somewhere. He realised now why the world had become flat and empty. Things were ending.

It's an accomplished first work. Even if you think you don't like short stories, I would urge you to give Diving Belles a try. I have been reading it between novels and now I feel a little book-shaped hole in my life.




Reviews from other bloggers:
Savidge Reads | Dog Ear Discs

Interview with Lucy Wood

6 comments:

  1. Ooh, sounds right up my alley! Thanks for sharing!

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    1. Oh, how lovely! My ARC of the US version just arrived in the mail today and I"m looking forward to starting it. I have several books ahead of it in the queue, though.

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  2. I am always looking for a good short story collection and this one sounds interesting- especially that story about the house. I wrote a paper once about a poem told from a house's point of view, so I get where you are coming from when you say you like a house as a character!

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  3. Great review Ellie, I loved this book as you know and have to tell you that slight feeling of missing it doesn't go away. I think its a collection I will re-read and re-read.

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  4. New follower courtesy of Blogoholics. Fantastic blog!
    Jeannette @ www.walkingonbookshelves.blogspot.com

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  5. I would love to read this! I was born in Cornwall (and live in Devon now - still visit frequently). These short stories sound so wonderful :)

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