Diving Belles by Lucy Wood

Title: Diving Belles: And Other Stories
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!

*** *** ***

GIVEAWAY!

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.

Comments

  1. Sounds like a good fantasy book of stories to read on a lazy day.

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    1. Yes -- it's just fantastical enough to be escapist but not so heavily weird that you're straining to get the stories. Really quite fun!

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  2. Oh, this sounds like such a good collection, and any book that can induce that much emotion sounds like a good one to seek out.I tend to prefer my stories more tightly woven and atmospheric, so this collection sounds like it would be perfect for me! Great job!

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    1. I think you'll dig this one then -- the title story might be my favorite -- it's so bittersweet and dark -- but the others are all just such fun!

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  3. I'm not usually one for short stories but this one intrigues me. It sounds so good and what I noticed first was the cover and title. Both grabbed my attention immediately. I don't enter many giveaways anymore but I'd love to throw my name in the hat for this one Audra.

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    1. I'm so glad, Darlene -- this one is worth it, I think. :) The cover and title totally grabbed me first, too -- so unusual and striking -- and the stories are just as good!

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  4. I don't read a lot of magical realism, but think short stories would be a great way to experience some.

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    1. Yes -- this is a great way to dip your toes into the water! There's a fairy tale-like feel to them -- which I just love in my fiction!

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  5. I've had this book on my TBR for ages...I've heard so many good things about it. Glad to hear you liked it!

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    1. Oh yes -- the praise is all true!

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  6. I like the mix of magic with reality. Thanks for the giveaway!

    PS: I accidentally hit "submit" on the giveaway form before I entered my email address in full. I had to resubmit another entry to enter it in full, so please go ahead and delete the first entry that was incomplete!

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    1. Darlene, no worries -- thanks for entering -- this is a lovely volume, super fun for some brief escapes from reality!

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  7. Sounds like a great little book for a crisp Fall evening! Now if only I could enter to win those 'crisp Fall evenings'. Georgia doesn't know what those are!

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  8. I really enjoyed this collection, too - now if I could only get my post written...

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  9. I find that I love short stories more and more. I read Enchantment by Thaisa Frank recently. I hope you've entered the giveaway. I think you'd like it...and we're going to have an online discussion of one of the stories with the author in Sept.

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  10. I didn't realize this a short story collection until now - it sounds REALLY GOOD!

    Thanks for being on the tour Audra. I'm featuring your review on TLC's Facebook page today.

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  11. This short story collection sounds like one I would really like. I love the cover! From your description, the writing sounds like Rachel Ingalls or maybe Shirley Jackson? Anyway, I'm intrigued.
    Thanks for a great, well-written review!

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  12. I enjoy short stories and always mean to read more of them. This collection sounds terrific...fun, interesting, captivating and I love the dark-ish atmosphere and slight eccentricity or quirkiness of the characters.


    Terrific post, Audra, I really enjoyed this review!

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  13. I think I understand what you mean about the degree of unease; the endings are kind of Mansfield-ish, so that you're sorta left adrift in the world that she's created. But that's the kind of ending that I love most, so I was happy enough with that. It makes me feel like the stories do have a truth to them, that the characters are existing beyond the end of it, when not everything is resolved.

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    1. YES -- the endings were perfect. Anything neater, and the oomph would have disappeared. I still think of her stories now and then -- they were delightful.

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