This is my first short story collection review for the revamped blog. If you remember my writing from before, I LOVE short stories. I think they're incredibly fascinating for what you can accomplish in such a small space. This wonderful little book came to me all the way from England. I found out about it thanks to a friend who is attending Bath SPA University and purchased ALL the books on her last visit. This tiny thing made it into an instagram picture and in her story, she shared the last short story in this collection. I knew immediately I had to have it. I was just completely hooked.
That's the big takeaway. This book is worth the money and the wait for delivery all for the last two pages.
The collection of stories centers around four women or maybe one woman in different stages of her life. The first story is about a little girl growing up in the Caribbean during the late 1890s. It's called The Day They Burned the Books. It's a snapshot of a particular time with a particular group of people. This little girl and her friend get their first glimpse of the petty destructiveness of adults.
The second short story is where the collection derives its name. Petronella, a young woman in 1914 London, travels to meet her boyfriend and another couple at a country house. Everything goes wrong. Petronella, disillusioned with her life and her place in the world, decides to leave the country and is aided by two, mm, let's call them maybe "too eager to help" men. Petronella makes her way back home and maybe gives up on any chance of breaking out of her path.
And when you reach the third short story, you wonder what has happened to this woman, you know nothing except she has been moved from a hospital to a convalescent center, which I'm assuming is similar to hospice care. She tells you about the woman next to her in the ward and a tragic haircut while she counts down the days to her escape.
And finally, the last story. The final piece of this woman's life. It's too perfect for me to summarize. You'll just have to read it.
The whole collection is all of a whopping 53 pages. I read it in less than an hour one evening, but I have a feeling the stories will sit with me for quite some time.
Do you like short stories? Which is your favourite?