Six Degrees of Separation – from ‘Our Wives under the Sea’ to ‘Hotel Iris’

It’s the beginning of the month, which means that it’s time for another chain of books. Six Degrees of Separation is a bookish meme created by Kate from Books are My Favourite and Best. Every month Kate chooses one book to start the chain and we just have to select other six, each connected in some way with the previous one.

For April the first book is Our Wives under the Sea by Julia Armfield, which I haven’t read yet, though I enjoyed her collection of short stories Salt Slow. In her debut novel, Miri is happy that her wife, Leah, has returned home from a deep-sea mission. Leah is struggling, however, as that mission has not ended well.

The title of Julia Armfield’s novel reminds me of the short story collection Diving Belles by Lucy Wood. The main character in the first tale, which is memorably atmospheric, goes under the sea on a diving belle to see her husband. The sea is, in fact, a recurring element in many of the stories featured in this collection. Continue reading

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‘Salt Slow’ by Julia Armfield

My rating: 4 stars

The majority of the short stories in the collection Salt Slow by Julia Armfield have the appearance of being true-to-life, but as we keep on reading, mystical and supernatural elements take over. Those features are used to highlight various human experiences. Several of the stories are metaphors that explore the characters’ feelings, tribulations and distress without resorting to sentimentality.

‘Mantis’, the first story in the collection, sets the mood for what is to come. What seems like a tale about an ordinary teenage girl with a skin condition turns into something much different, more unsettling. When the story comes to an end, much is left to the imagination, which doesn’t diminish its impact.

Women take centre stage in this collection, being often the main characters. In ‘The Collectables’, three friends, who are working on their theses, consider men to be a disappointment. One of them has a solution to the problem. ‘Stop Your Women’s Ears with Wax’ is less disturbing, but it also features many supernatural and mystical elements, which are mixed with the everyday life. Mona joins the crew of a girl-band to film videos for their website. Everyone in the crew is a woman, as are all the fans. Continue reading

Book Haul – March 2021

March felt like a good month to get more books, though since last year I’ve been trying to read all of the books that I own before buying new ones. This haul consists of both novels and short story collections, almost all of them written by women. Some have been on my wish list for ages, others are more recent discoveries.

 

Girl with a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier

Inspired by Johannes Vermeer’s famous painting, Girl with a Pearl Earring tells the story of Griet, a servant girl who becomes the student and muse of the Dutch painter. Scandal erupts when he gives her his wife’s pearl earrings to wear for a portrait. I’ve been meaning to read this historical fiction novel for ages and hopefully won’t be disappointed.

 

Salt Slow by Julia Armfield

Julia Armfield’s debut collection of short stories is supposedly filled with lyrical prose and dark humour. How could I resist buying it? Various feelings are explored in these tales: isolation, obsession, love and revenge. Continue reading