- Paperback: 288 pages
- Publisher: Picador; Main Market Ed. edition (23 May 2013)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1447209508
- ISBN-13: 978-1447209508
- Product Dimensions: 13 x 1.8 x 19.7 cm
- Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 35,992 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Astray Paperback – 23 May 2013
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‘Time and again, Emma Donoghue writes books that are unlike anything I have ever seen before, and Astray is no exception.’ Ann Patchett, author of State of Wonder
‘Emma Donoghue is one of the great literary ventriloquists of our time. Her imagination is kaleidoscopic. She steps borders and boundaries with great ease and style. In her hands the centuries dissolve, and then they crystallize back again into powerful words on the page.’ Colum McCann, author of Let the Great World Spin
‘Superb . . . read this book. It is a gem.’ Sunday Times
‘Vivid and moving’ Good Housekeeping
‘A pitch-perfect collection of short stories, inspired by real-life characters whose lives have gone awry’ Marie Claire
‘Donoghue’s affinity for yesteryear’s untold tales is charming, and her talent for dialect is hard to overstate . . . Each and every one of Donoghue’s characters leaves an impression’ TIME
'Superb ... [Listen to] this book. It is a gem.' (The Sunday Times)
'Emma Donoghue is one of the great literary ventriloquists of our time. Her imagination is kaleidoscopic. She steps borders and boundaries with great ease and style. In her hands the centuries dissolve, and then they crystallise back again into powerful words on the page.' (Colum McCann) --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
In the story 'Onward' Caroline, a young woman living in Victorian London, is forced into a life of prostitution when she can find no other way to support her illegitimate child and her younger brother, Fred. When Fred suggests they emigrate and make a fresh start, Caroline wonders whether "when you change countries, perhaps your old self stays fixed to your back, like a turtle's shell". In order to raise money for their passage, Caroline will need to reveal her life story to a famous author who will pay her for it, but will Caroline decide that it is preferable to sell her story or her body? In 'The Gift', a particularly heart-wrenching story, we meet a young widow living in Jersey City, USA, in 1877 who, through lack of money, takes the very difficult decision to put her baby daughter into the care of the Children's' Aid Society. When the woman's situation improves, she writes letters trying to have her daughter returned to her, but is she successful in her mission to be reunited with her own flesh and blood?
In the tenderly portrayed 'Counting the Days' we read about Jane and Henry Johnson, victims of the Irish potato famine, who leave Ireland separately for America and count the days until they are reunited. When Jane arrives in the States will she find a prosperous husband ... or no husband at all? And in the unusual story 'Daddy's Girl' we meet Imelda Hall, a young woman who receives a terrible shock when her father dies and his real identity is revealed.Read more ›
At the end of each story there is an explanation of its historical inspiration, and it's through this that you get an understanding of how incredibly talented Donoghue is. Most writers, when coming across an interesting news clipping or historical anecdote feel compelled to discover something about the people or stories behind it: few can create so many convincing characters and settings and leap so confidently through time as Donoghue has here.
My only complaint would be that I couldn't practice the 'dipping in' reading technique I described above. No, Donoghue's collection demanded my full, undivided attention; once you start reading, you're in for the ride, and what an exhilarating, compelling and eye-opening ride it is. Hats off to Donoghue for creating short stories as they should be - a complete and intense immersion into another world.
The central theme of each story, and that which links them together is 'astray', not just geographically astray, but morally and in some cases criminally too. The collection is divided into four parts; Departures, In Transit, Arrivals and Aftermaths and are mainly set in the 19th Century.
There is a quote on the back of this book from author Colum McCann; he describes Emma Donoghue as 'one of the great literary ventriloquists of our time' - I can add nothing to that statement for it really is spot on.
Emma Donoghue has a writing style and a voice like no other, it doesn't matter whether she is writing short pieces or a full length novel, whether it is historical or contemporary fiction, or even if the voice that she is using is that of an adult or a child. Her writing skill takes my breath away and I was totally immersed in this collection, literally reading it from beginning to end in one day. It takes special skill to be able to transport a reader to Deep South USA on one page and then to Victorian London on the next so seamlessly. Her voices are realistic, entrancing and so vividly written.
Emma Donaghue tends to reinvent herself in every book of hers that I have read. The research is impeccable, and the writing style very good. This is an author to strongly recommend as her books are very moving and enjoyable.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is a collection of 14 short stories which all share two characteristics: their subject matter (human migration and its consequences); and the fact that each is based on one or... Read morePublished 13 months ago by James
My English class enjoyed her earlier novel "Room" after some initial mystification. Emma Donoghue has certainly an ability to base her writing on unusual and intriguing... Read morePublished on 31 Dec. 2013 by Norman Bishop
We chose this for the book club. Needed a book to read in a couple of weeks. A great solution. Interesting selection of well written short stories. Read morePublished on 28 Oct. 2013 by Jandrell
I love all of Emma's books she writes well and her stories are always interesting, I knew her when she lived in the same house as my daughter in Cambridge so I am biased, lovely... Read morePublished on 23 Aug. 2013 by Glasgow Annie
This proved to be a joy to read. The absence of sentimentality means Donoghue manages to make you care about her wonderful characters and their experiences. Read morePublished on 22 Aug. 2013 by Miss Jacalyn A. Leedham
I have only attempted one other book by Emma Donaghue and didn't finish it. However, my book club is reading this book, so I decided to give her another shot. Read morePublished on 23 Jun. 2013 by Amazon Customer
It arrived OK I like the sound of the stories but I haven't read it yet. I may recommend to my book club as we like to read different things and short stories are a good genre to... Read morePublished on 22 Jun. 2013 by Spruce Goose
I have read other books by the author which I have loved(slammerkin being one of my favourite books ever)and thought I would give the shorts stories a go but only read a handful of... Read morePublished on 28 Mar. 2013 by Kindle Customer