Diving Belles

!!> Ebook ➦ Diving Belles ➧ Author Lucy Wood – Johndore.co.uk
  • Hardcover
  • 223 pages
  • Diving Belles
  • Lucy Wood
  • English
  • 26 July 2019
  • 9781408816851

About the Author: Lucy Wood

Lucy Wood has a Master s degree in Creative Writing from Exeter University She grew up in Cornwall Diving Belles is her first work.

Diving BellesStraying Husbands Lured Into The Sea Can Be Fetched Back, For A Fee Magpies Whisper To Lonely Drivers Late At Night Trees Can Make Wishes Come True Provided You Know How To Wish Properly First Houses Creak, Fill With Water And Keep A Fretful Watch On Their Inhabitants, Straightening Shower Curtains And Worrying About Frayed Carpets A Teenager S Growing Pains Are Sometimes Even Bigger Than Him And, On A Windy Beach, A Small Boy And His Grandmother Keep Despair At Bay With An Old White Door In These Stories, Cornish Folklore Slips Into Everyday Life Hopes, Regrets And Memories Are Entangled With Catfish, Wrecker S Lamps, Standing Stones And Baying Hounds, And Relationships Wax And Wane In The Glow Of A Moonlit Sea This Luminous, Startling And Utterly Spellbinding Debut Collection Introduces In Lucy Wood A Spectacular New Voice In Contemporary British Fiction Lucy Wood Has A Master S Degree In Creative Writing From Exeter University She Grew Up In Cornwall Diving Belles Is Her First Work.

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10 thoughts on “Diving Belles

  1. Scarlet says:

    Diving Belles is a gorgeously written and richly imagined collection of what are too abrupt and too fleeting to qualify as stories Each of the twelve accounts capture a moment of magic in an otherwise mundane life a woman going about her day even as she agonizingly turns to stone, a mother daughter duo who stumble upon a tree that makes wishes come true, a melancholy ghost who takes up residence in a young couple s home and leaves shells and sand in his wake yet each is a phantom story, like a reflection on the surface of water, too elusive to hold on to.That being said, I cannot deny the allure of Lucy Wood s debut It is bewitching in the way it so effortlessly brings together the ordinary, the mystical and the forlorn Wood s prose is sparse and lovely, and the events and people she describes so suffused with melancholy, that I was constantly reminded of being at a desolate beach under the evening sky, with the wind hissing and the waves crashing Though gone all too soon, the magic in it was indisputable.Like in any collection of stories, some shine than the rest I personally felt the book waned a little towards the end, or maybe the theme and tone had become too repetitive by then to make much of an impression.My favorite was the opening story that also lends to the title, Diving Belles It is about an old woman who descends to the bottom of the sea to catch a glimpse of her husband, now a merman I believe it was the perfect introduction to the collection The ending, though vague, was intensely bittersweet and unexpected, and despite the element of magic, it was the all too human feeling of loss and longing that made it stand out.I m glad I read this collection It leaves something to be desired, yes, but it is well written and refreshing, with some truly original ideas It also introduces Lucy Wood as an author to watch out for.

  2. Fiona MacDonald says:

    Strange, ethereal, creepy, odd, surreal, magical These are a few words I would use to describe Diving Belles One of those books that I finish then sit and ponder on for a long while Everything in this book, each story, is completely normal, completely everyday, whilst at the same time it is sublimely different I can t really describe the stories, because you really have to read them to understand their magic.

  3. Blair says:

    A gorgeously written but sadly unfulfilling collection of what I would call scenes, rather than stories Lucy Wood s debut combines traditional Cornish folklore with the mundane reality of the everyday her characters are often lonely, uncertain, leading fragmented and unsatisfying lives, and into these almost painfully realistic depictions the author weaves elements of the strange, the fantastic and the magical There s a giant s boneyard, people turning to stone and witches who can transform into animals, but also strained relationships between family members, painful memories and the blossoming of young love Without exception, I absolutely loved Wood s portrayals of people rarely have I known characters to come to life so effectively within such short passages I felt like I knew the characters, and had a kind of emotional investment in them, within just a couple of pages It was this fact that made it all the frustrating when I found one story after another inconclusive and abrupt Events are described, and then they come to an end there s no structure, certainly no resolution, and after reading a few stories and feeling the same about them all, I realised it was likely none of them would reach a satisfying conclusion It s not that I think a story absolutely has to have a beginning, middle and end to work, but while they might be avant garde thematically, nothing about the stories suggests they are also trying to be avant garde structurally they just happen, and that s it I feel like I m struggling to say what I mean here but basically, the plots felt very empty to me, where the characterisation was very much the opposite.In conclusion, then, Wood is an excellent, brilliantly talented writer I will certainly be seeking out her future work, and I hope she writes a full length novel next, because I d love to see the potential of that character building skill truly realised Additionally, I think some of my annoyance with Diving Belles is down to my approach as a reader I ve always had a difficult relationship with the short story format see my recent review of Hawthorn Child Whatever the reasons, though, I can t avoid the fact that this book didn t really work for me however much I might have wanted it to.

  4. Kirsty says:

    I first read Lucy Wood s debut short story collection, Diving Belles a couple of years ago, and very much enjoyed it Whilst recently tidying up my bookcase, I came across my lovely hardback copy, and decided to reread it Jon McGregor writes that Wood s stories are brilliantly uncanny not because of the ghosts and giants and talking birds which haunt their margins, but because of what those unsettling presences mean for the very human characters at their centre Ali Shaw calls these stories from the places where magic and reality meet It is as if the Cornish moors and coasts have whispered secrets into Lucy Wood s ears.Magical realism is at play in almost all of Wood s stories, all of which are set along her home county of Cornwall s ancient coast Here, the flotsam and jetsam of the past becomes caught in cross currents of the present and, from time to time, a certain kind of magic can float to the surface The setting is what connects the stories on the face of it, but so too does an unsettling sense one gets that darker things are just about to happen In Diving Belles , for instance, Wood writes The bell swayed Iris sat very still and tried not to imagine the weight of the water pressing in She took a couple of rattling breaths It was like those moments when she woke up in the middle of the night, breathless and alone, reaching across the bed and finding nothing but a heap of night chilled pillows The titular story has stayed with me particularly since I first read it Everything about it and, indeed, this is the case with every single one of Wood s tales here is gloriously vivid There are also fascinating undercurrents throughout which pull one in Wood s descriptions have an unusual element to them they are ethereal, almost, particularly with regard to the similes which she employs She shows, and never tells For example, cuttlefish mooned about like lost old men , small icicles hung off the branches like the ghosts of leaves , and his right eye got slightly lazy, the iris edging outwards like an orbiting planet In a story titled Beachcombing , Wood writes about the sea It was ugly a lot of the time, the sea, if you really looked at it Ugly and beautiful too, with its muscles and its shadows and its deep mutterings, as if it was constantly arguing with itself The strains of magical realism, and a series of odd occurrences, are present in almost all of these stories, but each is written in such a way that one never stops to question them they are rendered entirely realistic in the context of the stories, and are never overdone, exaggerated, or made farcical Realism and magical realism have been blended seamlessly In these stories, there is an invisible man, whom only the protagonist and her mother can see after using a particular eye cream a drowned wrecker who inhabits a couples house a giant boy who is just waiting for his growth spurt a disgruntled grandmother who lives in a beachside cave and a story told using the collective voice of house spirits Wood s characters all have mysterious qualities to them In the story Countless Stones , its protagonist s body undergoes a drastic change upon occasion She brushed her hair and tried not to think about it changing to stone, how heavy it would get, how it would drag on her neck and then clog up like it was full of grit, knitting together and drying and splitting and matting There is a kind of quiet glory to Diving Belles It feels like such an effortless, and well tied together collection Wood is a very talented author These stories, all of which are imaginative and unusual, really strike a chord Such a sense of place is evoked here, and each story is incredibly immersive There is a darkness and a mysteriousness to Wood s Cornwall it is gritty, almost Diving Belles is a wonderful collection, which I am so pleased I chose to reconnect with.

  5. Maciek says:

    Lucy Wood s debut collection contains a few truly magical short stories, and is adorned with one of the beautiful covers I have seen recently soft, gentle colors, golden lettering, the yellow lantern and blue mermaid with a shell among the rocking waves circled by golden birds Call me vain, but I do pay attention to cover art And who could resist this one Set in Lucy s native Cornwall, along its coast and among its many moors and forest, the stories contrast traditional Cornish folklore with everyday, contemporary life This is a world like our own, but one where fairies, mermaids and forest spirits exist alongside ordinary humans, and interact with them to various results, not always good.The stories themselves are often bittersweet and pretty dark, much like the old fantasy fables that I used to read when I was a little boy I grew up reading the Brothers Grimm instead of watching the watered down Disney animations Perhaps the best example is the title story, Diving Belles, but I really don t want to spoil it I found the surprise not sure if others would agree that it is a surprise crucial to enjoyment which employs the traditional lore and combines it with very human longing and desolation Another favorite story would be Of Mothers and Little People written entirely in the second person which is a beautiful and touching reunion story, with a unique and surprising twist which turns its on its head to a wonderful effect The rest of the stories are also unique and enjoyable brother and sister play in a giant s boneyard, one woman notices that she starts turning into stone while another discovers that her house has a new, weird inhabitant but while they are genuinely good they didn t quite manage to match the quality of the book s opening few This isn t necessarily a negative, as the two stories I mentioned are really excellent and should be read by all but I couldn t help and want , perhaps of the same feeling which they evoked in me and which never again sprang to surface and remained hidden beneath it, offering me just a glimpse I d still very much recommend it, if only for these early stories you d be hard pressed to find better short fiction elsewhere.Watch Lucy Wood talk about her inspiration here.

  6. Jane says:

    Often the books you love are the most difficult to write about How do you capture just what makes them so very, very magical Diving Belles is one of those books It hold twelve short stories Contemporary stories that are somehow timeless Because they are suffused with the spirit of Cornwall, the thing that I can t capture in words that makes the place where I was born so very, very magical Lucy Wood so clearly understands what it is about the sea, what it is is about the moorland The beauty, the power, the mystery I don t have the words, but she does And she threads all of this through scenes from contemporary life She catches turning points, moments to remember, stories that should be retold There s a pinch of magic too So one woman may travel in a diving bell to bring home a husband lost at sea And another may be called back home when spirit of the sea permeates her inland home It feels strange, it feels other worldly, and yet it feels utterly real I was unsettled and I was enraptured I turned the pages back and forth, not wanting to leave, and because there was something elusive that I couldn t quite hold on to Such lovely writing, and such a wonderful spirit An extraordinary debut I am struggling for words but, make no mistake, I am smitten.

  7. Dov Zeller says:

    This is a book of magical or fabular realism What is most beautiful and intriguing about the stories is not the mythical creatures, but the descriptions of the mundane relationships to self and other homes that memories live in natural landscapes bodies of water The magical stuff enhances the intensity of the mundane, and particularly the bleakness and sharpness of memory, love, loss, feelings of existential lostness Some excerpts to illustrate at the end of the review The writing is very good, at times gorgeous and exquisitely fine But the shape of the stories didn t draw me in and the magic sometimes felt forced or not in tune with the other parts of the stories The edition I got from the library has a cover illustration by Eleanor Davis and the book is very beautifully designed She made the bed She picked up her hairbrush and sat on the edge of the bed and started to brush her hair She thought it had become paler she was thirty six and she thought that over the last few years it had become paler She could never shift the stale bread and onion smell that working in the cafe left in it Once in a while, if she looked at a magazine in a waiting room or saw an advert on TV, she would think about dying it, but she never did 23 You trail off, realising that your mother wouldn t get the joke The trees bend and shiver they sound as though they are rifling through their own leaves for something lost 43 You go back upstairs and sit in bed, waiting for her to get up You have never liked houses early in the morning when no one else is around They all have that still coldness that reminds you of museums, or the bright silence of empty swimming pools She comes downstairs and pads into the kitchen She switches on the kettle and you hear the clatter of cups and teaspoons, her quiet early morning noises 46 Tessa was getting used to the cold Small waves slapped into her chest and arms She waded forward and soon she was up to her shoulders She ducked under and swam Her face was streaming and her hair had turned into a black, slippery rope Her body sliced easily and lightly through the water 168 The ground was rockier There were humped shapes all around Her father tripped and fell onto his hands but he didn t swear He told her to be careful even though it was him who had fallen 200

  8. Penny says:

    I decided that 2016 would be the year that I read fiction.I m normally engrossed in the Tudor period, or Victorian London, or someone s memoirs or travels, and fiction over the last few years has very much taken a back seat But I am aware that I might well be missing out.So, I decided to start with a short story collection as a way of easing me in I loved the sound of Diving Belles and it proved an excellent choice There s a real mixture of everyday life mixed up with magic and mystery Apparently Wood has used Cornish Folklore as her starting point, but my knowledge of such folklore is almost non existent However, the lure of the sea, the wildness of the coast and the pull of the past are present throughout.Two stories really stood out for me Firstly the woman who occasionally turns to stone and goes to join the standing stones on the cliff top The description of her body gradually changing from her feet up whilst she goes around checking food won t go off in the fridge during her absence was excellent.Secondly I loved the story of the young woman who goes to visit her divorced mother in her childhood home The woman s perception of her mother being lonely and alone is challenged when she applies some of her mother s magic eye cream The cream opens her eyes to her mother s life in ways than one

  9. Mara says:

    This was fine, but considering the number of times I tried to finish it kept having to put it down and come back it wasn t my favorite If you re looking for magical realism type short stories influenced by fairy tales, I d send you to Angela Carter

  10. Katie Lumsden says:

    A beautiful rich lovely short story collection featuring a nice balance of magical realism and the ordinary relationships of everyday life.