The House With The Lilac Shutters
The House With The Lilac Shutters and other stories
This collection was written over the course of three summers while visiting the same small town in France. Set in the foothills of the Pyrenees each short story stands alone, but there are characters who reappear and whose lives are linked together in unexpected and significant ways. The voices and styles are rich and varied, exploring how chance encounters can spread their influence over the course of a lifetime.
‘You swoop into the private lives of individuals on the verge of a crisis or change, view them dispassionately, perhaps even with some embarrassment, and then swoop out again and into other lives.The author is adept at slipping into the skins of others, which gives the reader an uncanny sense of fluidity, but also some discomfort – because these characters have such rawness, such pathos.
Individually, the stories all have something precious embedded in them – a nugget of experience or a poetic turn of phrase, which makes them worth reading regardless of their place in the collection.
…each character is worthy of our sympathy, while none of them actually ask for it.This is not a sentimental version of people, this is the real thing.A mirror held up to a village somewhere in France, but which is entirely recognisable from the Highlands of Scotland.’
‘Set in small towns in both France and England, the stories stand in their own right as beautifully observed descriptions of human jealousy, desire, guilt and love, but they contribute to a completely satisfying whole…
…hints are dropped like pebbles in a pond so that each story ripples into another, revealing a bit more about a character from an earlier story and helping the reader build up an understanding of why characters are as they are…
…I was put in mind of one of my all time favourite texts – Dylan Thomas’ ‘Under Milk Wood’. There is a lyrical quality to the writing and descriptions make use of all the senses so that they are vivid and engaging…
I look forward to returning to them in the future.’
‘Each story tells a tale touching on either betrayal, jealousy, weakness, disappointment, fear or neglect, flagging up just about every challenge that can rise up between people who think they know each other.
Showers of of richly sensual images feed our appetite, whether they dance off objects, knick-knacks, food or horticulture. This reminds me of vintage Michele Roberts, especially when she is writing about France. Let this roll around your taste buds: the ‘mortadella pink tongue’ of a dog. Or: he had a voice ‘exactly like marrons glaces’. Such images amplify the present moment with vivid colour and flavour, nailing it in place it with precision and subtlety. We are encouraged to let our eye skip over pages in the manner of a proverbial rolling stone gathering an accumulation of fruitfulness as it travels on.
This is utterly original story-making of a very high quality, brave in its scope and range.’
‘Highly compelling, emotionally insightful collection of intertwined short stories exposing the secrets of the heat and deed. If you have ever wondered who lnhabits quaint French villages where the sun’s heat creates passion out of torpor, where the stylish woman queuing ahead of you to buy bread or the small child bouncing a ball might be hiding something dark or devious. The author creates some stunning prose, sharply observant and almost painterly in her imagery. Highly recommended.’
‘Lovely stories wonderfully written. The author manages to effortlessly pull you into the different situations and lives of characters individually and then as part of a complicated intertwining social web that uncovers truths and intrigue. All you have to do is sit back as an observer and enjoy the fantastic imagery brought about by subtle observations and thoughtful behavioural quirks. A great book to pick up anytime or to curl up on a sofa a read all afternoon.’