Diving Belles by Lucy Wood
Author: Lucy Wood
Genre: Fiction (Short Fiction / Speculative / Mothers / Mariners / Nautical Themes / Supernatural )
Publisher/Publication Date: Mariner Books (8/7/2012)
Source: TLC Book Tours
Rating: Liked it immensely.
Did I finish?: I did, in one day!
One-sentence summary: Twelve dreamy short stories featuring a mix of realism and magic -- mermaid-stolen husbands and women turning to stone, invisible lovers and houses that view inhabitants as interlopers.
Do I like the cover?: I do -- it's sweetly creepy! The stories have this feel, sort of simple and kind of chilling.
I'm reminded of...: Aimee Bender, Angela Carter, Holly Phillips
First line: The thing was, did Grandma have any teeth left? from 'Beachcombing'
Buy, Borrow, or Avoid?: Borrow or buy if you like unusual, escapist short fiction -- claustrophobic and evocative!
Why did I get this book?: The title -- it was so unique! -- and because more and more I'm finding I really do like short fiction!
Review: Here is, essentially, my experience with this book: one) I thought, 'awww, funky cute cover!'; two) I flipped to the back and thought, 'awww, cute author!'; three) I opened the book and read the first few stories and thought, 'ohhellyeah!'.
I raced through this slender volume in a day -- managing three stories on my commute, two at lunch, three before dinner, the rest after dinner -- and while I probably should have moved a little more slowly -- savored -- I didn't want to stop swimming in Wood's world of invisible lovers, sentient houses, hungry oceans, and unending damp. I suppose my only complaint is that while the stories are very atmospheric and very moody, there's some bite missing. Wood beautifully evokes the claustrophobic and maddening sense of her scenarios, but ends the stories just as we've acclimated. I finished many of her stories bemused, or sad, or curious -- but never with the shattering sense of unease that makes my skin crawl, like when I read Aimee Bender or Angela Carter.
BBC Radio 4 Extra did a reading series of her stories, so if you want to get a sense of her writing, be sure to give them a listen. The five stories featured were among my favorites -- they feature Wood's deliciously damp settings (literally, in some cases!) and quirky, paranormal-y, magical realism-y plots.
A perfect summer escape, if you're in a funk or want something less sunny to dip into, easy stories with dark soul -- because we all have those moments!
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I'm thrilled to offer a copy of Diving Belles to one lucky reader! To enter, fill out this brief form. Open to US/Canadian readers, ends 8/24.