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Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Diving Belles by Lucy Wood


Quirky and enchanting with a twist of darkness, the short stories in Lucy Wood's, Diving Belles, span the spectrum from strange to really strange.  There are husbands who leave their wives for mermaids, a woman slowly turning to stone, and a house that keeps an eye on its inhabitants.  These stories are revamped versions of old mythologies that Wood has taken and made into her own.  She sets a strong tone with each story and is able to create distinct worlds that seem to bleed the ocean and smell of the salty sea air.  Her characters are fascinating and unforgettable. 

One of the characters that I could not get out of my mind was Iris from the short story titled, Diving Belles.:

"She fretted with her new dress and her borrowed shoes.  She tried to smooth her white hair, which turned wiry when it was close to water.  The wooden bench was digging into her and the wind was rushing up her legs, snagging at the dress and exposing the map of her veins.  She'd forgotten tights; she always wore trousers and knew it was a mistake to wear a dress.  She'd let herself get talked into it, but had chosen brown, a small victory.  She'd gathered the skirt up and sat on it.  If this was going to be the first time she saw her husband in forty-eight years she didn't want to draw attention to the state of her legs.  'You've got to be heartbreaking as hell,' Demelza advised her customers, pointing at them with a cigarette.  'Because you've got a lot of competition down there.' "

From those lines I was hooked.  I just fell in love with Wood's writing - she made her character, Iris, feel so honest and real.  Here is this woman sitting in a diving bell underwater, looking for her husband who left her 48 years ago for a mermaid, and she is worrying about how her legs will look.  I love that!  I'm sure Iris is worried about what to say to her husband, but the fact that her concern over her appearance is mentioned is what makes Wood's writing so engaging and relatable.  What woman wouldn't worry about her appearance in that situation?  I know I would.  And that is what I love about Wood - she appeals to our human nature.  She combines the mystical and the real in such a matter of fact manner that what you are reading doesn't seem all that odd - in fact, it starts to seem almost normal.  The more you read Wood's words, the more you are reminded of Angela Carter and Jeanette Winterson's works; which I feel is a testament to the strength of Wood's storytelling capabilities. 

I would most definitely recommend this book to anyone and everyone who is a fan of the short story or a fan of magical realism.  You will not be disappointed!

Here is a link to the TLC website, which has the list of all the other bloggers participating in the Diving Belles book tour.  Check it out!
Thanks to TLC Book Tours and the publisher for providing me with a copy of this book!

6 comments:

Heather J. @ TLC Book Tours said...

Thanks for being on the tour!

A Bookish Way of Life said...

Heather, thanks for having me on this tour! This book was definitely a treat to read!

Ti said...

I've come to like short stories quite a bit. So much so, that I am taking a short story analysis class this fall. We'll see how I like them, then.

A Bookish Way of Life said...

Ti, I started to enjoy short stories after reading Lahiri's Interpretation of Maladies - that book changed my thinking on them. Let me know how that class goes - looking forward to finding out what you are reading for the class and what you think of the reading.

Buried In Print said...

That was a great story, but I really liked the one about the standing stones too (don't want to say more than that as it'd risk spoilers)!

A Bookish Way of Life said...

Buried in Print, so glad you enjoyed it, too! Such an interesting book of stories. And yes, that was such a great one, too!