This powerful collection of stories hit me hard, and I think it will leave you, like it did me, thoughtful about relationships and events in your own life, and also about people you may have known, even perhaps have tried to help.
Most of the tales are narrated in the first person and by women. They seek escape from abuse and manipulation, and not always from male husbands and ‘lovers’. One tormentor turns out to be a therapist, another a female ‘friend’. We meet survivors bonding as they huddle in the soul-destroying shelters. We watch on as mothers, themselves survivors of dire relationships, struggle to save their daughters from also being undervalued and misused.
The stories are permeated and to some extent driven by the conviction of so many victims of bullying and abuse that the blows dealt to them are somehow their own fault. This tenuous grasp of self esteem, even when a person has perhaps had years of space to feel safe again, is vividly portrayed in ‘Bad Good Friday’. A woman tries to cudgel up a sense of grief for her dead father, who was apparently, at best, a cold man, while all the long night someone’s locked up dog howls with its own misery.
The last three tales have a lighter touch which leads you out from the others with a sense of relief, even a smile. Two are narrated by men and one in the third person, and while this change in form might seem at first discordant, I found it fitting. A wounded person often needs a wholly different perspective – usually that of someone who at last cares, to find the sense of hope the sub-title of these stories refers to.
You are at Baffled Bear Books, the blog of Mark, guardian,chocolate-fetcher and blundering typist for Mawson Bear, Ponderer of Baffling Things and one of this bright world’s few published bears. Mawson is writer bear of It’s A Bright World To Feel Lost In.