|Find it at your local bookseller,|
Indiebound or Amazon.
That shiver of surprised illumination that zings up your spine at the last sentence of a stellar short story? I crave it.
And the first few stories of Lucy Wood's collection did just that. She's a promising new voice in the tradition of Margaret Atwood's early collections, Angela Carter (if you haven't read her novel Nights at the Circus or her short story collections, you should), and current American short fiction phenom Karen Russell. And somehow Wood's consistently foreboding tone - a sense of the quiet menace in the everyday - reminds me a bit of Emma Donoghue too.
What's Diving Belles about? Well, most of the stories are set in Cornwall (Wood's home), but we're definitely in magic-real territory here: absolutely my favorite flavor...
- Old lady braving the dangers of descending into the deep in a bottomless diving bell to search for her mer-husband, disappeared lo these twenty or so years? Done. And we've got our title story nicely in hand.
- House spirits chronicling the lives of their home's inhabitants, the humans' arrivals and departures in stark contrast to these creatures' own static, house-bound lives? Done. Let's call it "Notes from the House Spirits".
- Twenty-something waitress turning - for the umpteenth time in her life - to stone? Fine. But before she joins the ring of stone-townspeople atop the seacliff, let's join her for the afternoon as she cheauffers her scatter-brained ex-boyfriend on errands, and statue-fication silently creeps in (and don't let's tell him it's happening again, OK?). That's the premise for "Countless Stones".
- And what if your mom - abandoned by dad for a younger woman - took to plastering her eyes each morning with an unguent that opens them to the sight of her green forest-elf lover? What if you too sampled that goo? Then you'd be smack dab in the middle "Of Mothers and Little People".
- And so on.
So who would enjoy Lucy Wood's first collection of short stories, Diving Belles? Anyone with a taste for making the ordinary fresh again, with a spirit open to spirits, with an interest in the interior voices of characters at once utterly individual and next-door neighbor familiar. Fans of the harsh coastal beauty of Cornwall and the ancient magic hidden there in every moor and meadow will find this book's settings especially appealing.
Wondering about Wood's style? Here's an excerpt.
My thanks to all at TLC Book tours for the opportunity to sample this fledgling effort from a young writer who's destined to entertain us for many years to come.
p.s. Here's Lucy Wood, reading a section of "Notes from the House Spirits":