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Astray Paperback – 23 May 2013

4.1 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews

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£7.99 FREE Delivery in the UK on orders with at least £10 of books. Only 5 left in stock (more on the way). Dispatched from and sold by Amazon. Gift-wrap available.

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Product details

  • 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)

Product Description

Review

‘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

Review

'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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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
'Astray' is Emma Donoghue's latest collection of short stories and consists of fourteen wonderful tales, rich in historical detail and based on real characters, many of whom have, in some way, gone astray.

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.
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Format: Paperback
I love a short story. The format perfectly meets the needs of the time-stretched parent; you can dip in and out of a book when you can snatch a moment or two. Every so often, there comes along a book of short stories that completely captivates me - the images linger long after I've finished each story, the characters are so compelling I just want to know more. This is the kind of short story collection Donoghue has created with Astray. Each story stands alone as a work of word-art and a succinct history lesson. She evokes character through hugely convincing vernacular, with a lot of the stories written in the first person. Most of the stories are deeply moving, the characters caught in heart-rending situations, or outcast from society, or snatching what chance they can for a better life.

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.
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By Lincs Reader TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 16 Nov. 2012
Format: Hardcover
Astray was published by Picador in October and is Emma Donoghue's latest collection of short stories. Like her previous collection; 'The Woman Who Gave Birth To Rabbits', these stories are based on true events and make up a collection of fictionalised fact.

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.
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Format: Hardcover
This book was not how I imagined it to be. Normally I am not a great reader of short stories, and I did not realise that this was a collection of short stories, but I enjoyed them greatly. I particularly like the idea of historical fact behind every story. You would read the story, and at times believe that there could be no truth behind it, particularly a story such as 'Daddy's girl', and then you read the historical relevance at the end of the story.
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.
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