Ghostly Stories by Celia Fremlin
Published by Faber & Faber, 2019
My rating: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
These classic tales of domestic horror are at once quintessential of their period and shrewdly observant of how stifling the female experience can be. In the first, a teenage girl’s delight at being left home alone soon dwindles when the phone won’t stop ringing and the doorknob starts to rattle. In the second, a woman is haunted by distressing dreams that her adult niece is in danger.
The prose is simple yet effective, and both follow a defined arc that culminates in a satisfying twist. Neither felt particularly ground-breaking, but I enjoyed both and would certainly read more of Fremlin’s work.
You can pick up a copy of Ghostly Stories by clicking here.
Mother Country by Elana Bell
Published by BOA Editions, 2020
My rating: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
This collection of poems juxtaposes two extremes of a parent-child bond, as Bell attempts to balance the struggles of conceiving and caring for a child with the pain of gradually losing her own mother to Parkinson’s disease.
There were times when Bell’s poetic style really didn’t gel with me; lines running together jarringly and imagery that felt overblown. There were definitely moments that shone, however, with poems that capture both the physical and mental strain of miscarriage, and the difficulty of grieving for someone who is technically still alive. Most memorable are the poems that boldly examine one of motherhood’s greatest taboos; admitting to the shortfall between the expectation and reality of parenthood, as Bell navigates what appears to be postnatal depression.
Raw and honest, I’m sure many will take comfort in seeing their less-than-perfect but deeply human reality reflected here. Perhaps those who do will connect with Bell’s style more than I did.
Thank you to the publisher for a free advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.
You can pre-order a copy of Mother Country by clicking here.