Today’s book review of a single short story is brought to you by yours truly, Morgen Bailey.
Snow by Aine Greaney
Synopsis: Set in a one-street small town in the Irish midlands, Snow (a short story) is a stylish portrait of Dolores, a young expatriate Irish woman who is suddenly summoned home from America to take care of her estranged and sick father. In her childhood home, Dolores wrestles with the push and pull between her new American life and her past life in Ireland. As she nurses her father back to health, she is beset by memories and caught between family loyalties and her own desires.
This story / more information is available via:
Review (of an advance copy)
Like my chick-lit novel, Snow is written in first-person present tense – both less favoured than the usual third-person past tense, although I’m a fan of both. It’s all about the writing for me.
I’m not a fan of part-sentences written as sentences in their own right and having one such on the first page didn’t set a positive tone (and there were more to come, I later found out).
My heart then sank further upon seeing the two main characters’ names: Delores Donohue / Declan, and readers of last week’s review will know that characters’ names starting with the same letter, especially when they look similar on the page, is a bugbear of mine.
Quite often we like the minor characters more than the main ones and while this isn’t the case… yet – I’m only a couple of pages in – I have a feeling I’m going to like Bridgie who ‘coughs like the dead’ and perhaps more so than Delores because she tells Bridgie every morning to quit smoking (which comes in again later with her father). There’s helping and then there’s nagging. I know, it’s only a story, but as a reader it should be ‘real’.
Then my clichéd heart sank again with more name choices… after Bridgie comes Brady.
I’ve found one instance in this story so far, but I often spot a writer using ‘well’ (and ‘oh’) at the beginning of sentences in dialogue and advise my students to avoid it, or only have one character saying it.
When there’s a discussion about UK snow vs US snow, Delores mentions “twelve inches, two feet” a couple of times, which she may have meant “twelve inches, maybe even two feet” but it could be read as there being six inches in a foot which there aren’t.
There is some great description in places; ‘the low-fat margarine makes a scum of yellow bubbles’ and the dinner tray with cold and hard potatoes, the wipers and wet tyres.
Characters are the key aspect in any story and this is about the interaction between Delores and those around her, especially her father and Declan.
It’s important to get a sense of place by how the characters speak and being set in Dublin, I expected an occasional accented phrase in the dialogue but I felt there were too many for such a short piece. Like the ‘well’, it would have been fine from one character and we do have Delores saying she’s talking as she does to please her father, to appease Bridgie and the townspeople – it’s sad she feels she has to do that – but still too much for me as a reader.
NB. I had received an ‘uncorrected’ advance copy so some of the issues I list above may have been changed since.
Short stories (inc. flash fiction) are my favourite format to write and read. While this story has some endearing moments, I didn’t warm to it (pun not intended). Because I’m a freelance editor, I analyse, and perhaps overanalyse, the writing I read and I’ve been harsher than the other reviewers on Amazon, but we all like different things and this story, unfortunately, just wasn’t for me.
Rating: 3 out of 5
Based in Northamptonshire, England, Morgen Bailey (“Morgen with an E”) is a prolific blogger, podcaster, editor / critiquer, Chair of NWG (which runs the annual H.E. Bates Short Story Competition), Head Judge for the NLG Flash Fiction Competition and creative writing tutor for her local county council. She is also a freelance author of numerous ‘dark and light’ short stories, novels, articles, and very occasional dabbler of poetry. Like her, her blog, https://morgenbailey.wordpress.com, is consumed by all things literary. She is also active on Twitter, Facebook along with many others (listed on her blog’s Contact page). She also recently created five online writing groups and an interview-only blog.
Her debut novel is the chick lit eBook The Serial Dater’s Shopping List ($0.99 / £0.77) and she has six others (mostly crime) in the works. She also has eight collections of short stories available (also $0.99 / £0.77 each) – detailed on https://morgenbailey.wordpress.com/books-mine/short-stories.
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