Short Story Saturday Review 018: Samantha and the Cockerel by Maggie Harris

Maggie HarrisWelcome to the Short Story Saturday slot and the eighteenth review in this series. This week’s review is of one of the short stories of a collection, ‘Canterbury Tales on a Cockcrow Morning’, by poet, short story author, memoirist and interviewee Maggie Harris.

The first sentence launches us into Samantha’s world and the dilemma of the noisy cockerel. With Samantha being a newcomer to the village we know this is going to spell trouble. We know it’s set in modern-day times by the 4×4 and new-build house, and from the off, the language is very rich with such phrases as ‘was wheedled into her turquoise gaze like a fisherman fighting a large tuna’. The tone is very friendly, as if the reader is sitting by a fire being told this tale, and the dialogue authentic, which adds another layer. There are touches throughout the piece that give clues as to Samantha’s lifestyle; the signed copy of Nigella’s latest book, the Hunter wellingtons and Home & Gardens magazine. We can’t help but take to the characters, good and bad, and feel every increasingly sorry for Gareth, although when he doesn’t defend Samantha as she expects him to do, our sympathy does switch slightly.

Samantha’s not going to win fans of Primark shoppers but that’s the great thing about fiction; we can have our characters being as horrible (snooty in Samantha’s case) as we’d like them to be.

I loved the twist when she goes into the local shop then when her plans are even more scuppered when we find out that her neighbour is involved in something Samantha has her sights on. But then events change again and we have the climax to the story which will definitely raise a smile.

This story is just one of fifteen so if they are as enjoyable as this one, you won’t be disappointed.

Thank you, Maggie, for inviting me read to your story.

maggie-coverCanterbury Tales on a Cockcrow Morning is a collection of short stories; 15 tales of modern-day Canterbury. From a homeless girl to a Chinese take-away owner who likes Country and Western, from a run-away schoolgirl who wants to be in a music video to a tale of two friends who meet up through the years: the stories link new migrants to Canterbury through their own voices, the voice of the storyteller and the city itself. Published by Cultured Llama in August 2012, the book will be launched and performed during the Canterbury Festival in October.

Maggie Harris has published five collections of poetry, and a memoir Kiskadee Girl. Her first collection, Limbolands won The Guyana Prize for Literature 2000. Her short story collection, Canterbury Tales on a Cockcrow Morning was published in August 2012, and launched during the Canterbury Festival. Her website is, she’s on Facebook ( and LinkedIn (

Canterbury Tales on a Cockcrow Morning is now out and had a successful launch in the Kent towns of Canterbury and Thanet, with more than 100 people coming along to the events. Maggie says, “I have struck oil with my current publishers, Cultured Llama, who are the most hard-working, hands-on, friendly, fair and helpful publishers.” That’s great news. Congratulations, Maggie.

The blog interviews will return as normal tomorrow with erotic writer and author marketing adviser Lucy Felthouse – the five hundred and eighty-third of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, bloggers, biographers, agents, publishers and more. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further. And I enjoy hearing from readers of my blog; do either leave a comment on the relevant interview (the interviewees love to hear from you too!) and / or email me.

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As I post an interview a day (amongst other things) I can’t unfortunately review books but I have a list of those who do, and a feature called ‘Short Story Saturdays’ where I review stories of up to 2,500 words (and post stories of up to 3,000 words). Alternatively if you have a short story or self-contained novel extract / short chapter (ideally up to 1000 words) that you’d like critiqued and don’t mind me posting it online in my new Red Pen Critique Sunday night posts, then do email me. I am now also looking for flash fiction (<1000 words) for Flash Fiction Fridays and poetry for Post-weekend Poetry.