Short stories: Suffolk, folklore, history, literary
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Reviewed by me for Whispering Stories
This book of short stories based on the history and folklore in and around the village of Blaxhall on the Suffolk Coast was an absolute treat to read. I lived in coastal Norfolk for some years and adore that part of the country, and had vague recollections of reading other glowing reviews of this book, hence my choice.
Ms Thornton's writing is beautiful. Evocative, intelligent, mournful, intricately researched and humorous at times, the sort of prose that doesn't need events or dialogue - and that's coming from someone who prefers books with lots of both. Never mind complaints about too much descriptive detail in books; Mad Maudlin, for instance, in which the narrator has a strange experience with some old film of a pub in which he is staying, is made up of little but descriptive detail, and I loved every word.
There's a very sad tale called The Watcher of Souls, about a long forgotten and tragic love affair (I want to know more about Annie!), but I think my favourites are High House, narrated by a local cleaner, about a wise man who lives above the floodlines.... and I loved Dr Whybrow in Whispers, the solitary academic who finds the inspiration he has been searching for in an old tower, built for defence during the Napoleonic Wars. And lastly, the beautiful Mackerel, about an old lady who has hardly moved from Blaxhall from all of her eighty-nine years. This one actually made me weep. I mean, properly cry, not just get a bit damp around the eyes.
I'm sending this book to my eighty-seven year old father who grew up in Suffolk in the 1930s; I am sure he will love it.
There's something wonderfully timeless about Norfolk and Suffolk, and this book made me want to go back and wander down those lonely country lanes I remember from my own childhood that, somehow, the 21st Century has not yet touched.
It's only £1. Possibly the best one you'll spend for a long time. Thank you, Rosy Thornton, for writing it, and Stacey from Whispering Stories for asking me if I'd like to do a guest review; without this offer, I might not have discovered this lovely book.