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Sunday, March 29, 2009

Short Story Weekend


The Ladies of Grace Adieu by Susanna Clarke

You know, I only remembered it was Short Story Weekend at something like 5pm today _ Sunday.

So I picked up my copy of The Ladies of Grace Adieu, and headed outside to read the first story. Why outside? Well, it's autumn here, but today was warm, and had one of those winds that makes you feel like you're about to go on a long journey, or see faeries at the bottom of your garden. So I settled in a sheltered, sunny spot, and read the first story _ the titular story of the collection.

And it was magical. Set in the same world as Clarke's debut novel, Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, The Ladies of Grace Adieu, it takes place in the village of Grace Adieu. Three young ladies of the town _ Mrs Field, Miss Parbringer (Mrs Field is Miss Parbringer's stepmother) and Miss Tobias _ are great friends, and spend all their time together.

It's hard to get hold of the substance of The Ladies of Grace Adieu, and I have this terrible urge to just throw out random words, after which you would have to imagine exclamation marks.

The story does make me wish we had more of Clarke than one great novel, and one short-story collection, because she is remarkable. I have a weakness for names, and I do love the names in here _ the name of the village and, especially, the name of the house where Miss Tobias is the governess: Winter's Lament. Her ability to tell a story _ long or short _ just leaves me wanting more.
It's hard, in a short story, to give a sense of depth, and history and magic, but Clarke is some kind of storyteller, because it has all of these. And the perfect day to read it? A windy day, where the wind is whispering of journeys, and faeries, and the Raven King ...

3 comments:

Nymeth said...

yay :D So glad you enjoyed it. I wonder when her next book will be out. She is indeed remarkable.

Cath said...

I liked this anthology a lot and it made me want to read Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell. I promised myself I would do that this year. Hope you enjoy the rest of the stories.

Gavin said...

I really enjoyed this collection when I read it, so glad you enjoyed it too.