Review by Booklist Review
*Starred Review* Inspired by various newspaper articles and stories from the last four centuries, Booker Prize finalist Donoghue's (Room, 2010) masterful new short story collection explores the ways people's lives can take unexpected and unprepared-for turns. A fallen woman in Victorian England supports herself and her child by the only means available to her until her younger brother comes up with another option. As the Civil War rages on, a slave and his mistress plot a daring escape. A bitter Puritan seeks revenge upon two women who spurned him. A woman sails toward Canada to join her husband, not knowing he's fallen gravely ill with cholera. A lawyer sets his sights on a wealthy young widow who seeks his help. A young woman makes a startling discovery about her politically powerful father after his death in New York City at the dawn of the twentieth century. Donoghue details the particular historical source that inspired her at the end of each story, and she discusses how each one fits in with her overall theme in the afterword. Revolutionary-era New Jersey, Civil War-era Texas, the gold rush Yukon, and many other settings come to life in this wonderfully imaginative, transporting collection.--Huntley, Kristine Copyright 2010 Booklist
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review
The stories in Donoghue's new collection all come, to varying degrees, from historical records; the author of Room, who studied 18th-century literature at Cambridge, has a gift for reading historical documents and picking out the odd, telling detail. There's the Plymouth Plantation man who accuses his neighbors of indecency, in "The Lost Seed"; the woman who gives her daughter up for adoption, then writes the Children's Aid Society demanding her return, in "The Gift"; the Tammany Hall bigwig found to be a woman, in "Daddy's Girl"; all outlines begging to be filled in. The 14 stories are all short (many too short), and by the time they've set up the circumstances and the era, they're almost done, and we're leaving characters we know as creatures of a time and place rather than individuals. When Donoghue establishes a distinct voice and person, the stories are vivid, curious, and honest: we'll remember the serial Puritan accuser and the young German soldier in revolutionary America long after we've forgotten other characters-like Jumbo the Victorian elephant and his keeper or the men who tried to hold Abraham Lincoln's body for ransom-in stories that are notable more for the historical moments they reconstruct than for the people who inhabit them. Agent: Kathleen Anderson. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by Library Journal Review
Elephant trainers, counterfeiters, prostitutes, and slaves are among the intriguing historical characters who wander the pages of Irish author Donoghue's short stories. Each of the restless characters goes astray in search of love, money, security, or a better life. In a fascinating afterword, Donoghue reveals that the idea for the collection came from her own experiences as an emigrant (she moved from Dublin to England and then to Canada). Each tale is based on an event or person whose story the author unearthed from an old newspaper or archive and is followed by information on some of the research involved. Many of these richly detailed shorts are told in the first person, and the fabulous cadre of narrators (James Langton, Khristine Hvam, Robert Petkoff, Suzanne Toren, and Dion Graham) bring these little gems vividly to life. VERDICT For all fans of literary or historical fiction. ["Working in a different vein from the wrenching Room, Donoghue has created masterly pieces that show what short fiction can do. Not just for devotees of the form," read the review of the Little, Brown hc, LJ 6/15/12.-Ed.]-Beth Farrell, Cleveland State Univ. Law Lib. (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.