The China Factory is a collection of twelve short stories, the first collection by Irish author, Mary Costello. Costello's superbly crafted stories are about a range of ordinary people: a retiring teacher, a young woman just finished school, an elderly man facing the end of his life, a young landscape gardener, a ten-year-old girl, a young mother, a middle-aged schools inspector, a bitter bachelor, an insomniac husband, a suspicious wife. Her stories involve every day events, but also life-changing moments: a funeral, a retirement, rape, estrangement, childhood discovery, adultery, miscarriage, insanity, cruelty and death. Costello, with a minimum of words, deftly evokes a myriad of profound emotions on the darker side of human existence: despair and desperation, dissatisfaction, fear, grief, shame, guilt, regret, sinking hope and, overwhelmingly, loneliness. Her prose is often beautiful and evocative: "She knew then, it was easier to be the one hurt, than the hurter." "...and as the night came down and the rain fell on the city it came to her that what this was - this man, this moment - what this was, most of all, was the resurrection of hope." "That what the poets had once granted her- those brief encounters with the sublime - a child might too." The reader could be forgiven for wondering if there are autobiographical elements to some of the stories. The stories have a very Irish feel yet will resonate universally with readers. Powerful and stirring.