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The China Factory [Paperback]

Mary Costello
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
Price: 10.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Product details

  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Stinging Fly Press (3 May 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1906539219
  • ISBN-13: 978-1906539214
  • Product Dimensions: 21.3 x 14 x 1.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 149,688 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
4.3 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Brilliant Collection of Short Stories 14 Oct 2012
The China Factory, a collection of short stories by Mary Costello published by The Stinging Fly has garnered great praise in the literary world. It was listed for the first Guardian book award and is being treated as a potential classic collection of short stories by all print and blog world commentators. Literary frame might have come to her overnight but the stories were many years in the making. I will say as my preliminary note that it was time well spent. I think that this collection will join the classics of Irish short stories, a very elite company of the greatest writers.

"The China Factory" (16 pages)

"The sight of a bible in a hotel room now, or a drunk in a doorway, or even my mother setting down her china cups, over even King Kong, all called Gus to mind"

The title story in the collection is a wonderful work about ties to your past, about guilt on leaving it behind, about life in an Irish factory and about the intrusion of violence and death into the lives of ordinary people, assuming contra to the facts that there are any ordinary people in Ireland. It is a tale of cruelty and kindness, the banalities of life interrupted by a Flannery O'Connor like sacred moment of transfixing terror. It is a story of a young woman who loves the reading life and how it has shaped her life, how it has helped her to escape the cycle of factory work and isolated and connected her as a person. The story opens on a seventeen year old woman's first day on the job in a factory that makes china plates and such, mostly for the tourist trade. The narrator starts out in the lowest position in the factory, a sponger whose job it is to clean the plates before they are decorated. We see what is like to work in the factory.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A quiet and subtle collection 12 Sep 2012
By Eleanor TOP 500 REVIEWER
In this debut collection of Irish short stories, Mary Costello introduces us to various characters all trying to come to terms with the lives they have made for themselves whilst being troubled by thoughts of those they could have led.

Particularly strong are the title story in which a woman remembers a summer she spent as a teenager working as a 'sponger' in a china factory and 'The Sewing Room' which opens with a teacher preparing for her retirement party and joyfully losing herself in her sewing. As the story progresses, however, we find out more about this woman's life until by the closing lines one is left deeply moved. Other highlights include 'You Fill Up My Senses', a portrait of a mother as seen through the eyes of her adoring daughter, 'The Astral Plane' in which a woman starts an email affair with a man she has never met, and 'The Insomniac', a short nasty story about a sleepless man who decides to open up to his concerned wife. Many of the stories are set in rural Ireland and I particularly enjoyed the glimpses of farming life and the contrasts between town and country.

Marriage is a recurring theme and in the course of these stories the reader meets many couples bound by love and habit but unable to communicate. Costello gets right to the truth of these relationships and the regret which fills her characters often makes for painful reading (for example, 'They had children because they could not be childless; childlessness would have magnified the loneliness of marriage.'). Sometimes these unhappy couples tended to feel a bit too similar and started blurring together; however, at their best these stories are very satisfying.

"The China Factory" is published by The Stinging Fly, a literary magazine and small press based in Dublin. They have produced a lovely paperback with a thick textured cover and French flaps.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars powerful and stirring 24 April 2013
By Cloggie Downunder TOP 500 REVIEWER
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.
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5.0 out of 5 stars macca 3 Jan 2014
By Macca
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Wonderful stories. Will strike a chord with anyone who grew up in Ireland fifty or more years ago. Will give others a picture of that era.
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