Friday 16 November 2012

Astray by Emma Donoghue

Definition of astray


  • 1away from the correct path or direction:
    we went astray but a man redirected us
  • 2into error or morally questionable behavior:
    he was led astray by boozy colleagues

Astray was published by Picador in October and is Emma Donoghue's latest collection of short stories.  Like her previous collection; 'The Woman Who Gave Birth To Rabbits', these stories are based on true events and make up a collection of fictionalised fact.

The central theme of each story, and that which links them together is 'astray', not just geographically astray, but morally and in some cases criminally too.   The collection is divided into four parts; Departures, In Transit, Arrivals and Aftermaths and are mainly set in the 19th Century.

Emma Donoghue

There is a quote on the back of this book from author Colum McCann; he describes Emma Donoghue as 'one of the great literary ventriloquists of our time' - I can add nothing to that statement for it really is spot on.

Emma Donoghue has a writing style and a voice like no other, it doesn't matter whether she is writing short pieces or a full length novel, whether it is historical or contemporary fiction, or even if the voice that she is using is that of an adult or a child.   Her writing skill takes my breath away and I was totally immersed in this collection, literally reading it from beginning to end in one day.    It takes special skill to be able to transport a reader to Deep South USA on one page and then to Victorian London on the next so seamlessly.  Her voices are realistic, entrancing and so vividly written.

With many thanks to Emma at Picador for forwarding a copy for review.

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