SECOND OPINION: Sandlands by Rosy Thornton

Review published on July 21, 2016.

I am not a fan of short stories but my sister insisted that I read this collection as the setting is East Suffolk, near where I live. I am so glad she persuaded me as I love this book. It works for me as the stories have a strong sense of place and this part of East Anglia is beautiful, remote and memorable as are Rosy’s tales.

Blaxhall, with its common, church and pub is a perfect backdrop for characters like the pregnant lady vicar, Mr Napish who saves a fox from the floods, Kathy in her cottage with Nick the builder and Hattie and her Grandma.

The past is very visible here and although I don’t like ‘ghost’ stories, the supernatural elements in the book are just right.

There is music threaded through the book, too, and it is very evocative of Suffolk pubs. The Ship at Blaxhall was probably originally called The Sheep as it is not on the coast, a quirk of the local accent.

It is difficult to choose a favourite story, but Mackerel brought a lump to my throat as it is about a grandmother making preparations in the kitchen as her grandaughter Hattie is returning for a visit.

I had to make myself stop betwEen each story when my impulse was to gulp them down, so keen was I to carry on reading.

The various elements of the book – characters, setting, language, and even the names and title – come together so well.

Do read this – even if like me you don’t like short stories. I am happy to be a convert!

Dorothy Anderson 5/5

Sandlands by Rosy Thornton
Sandstone Press 0-330-49045-1 pbk July 2016

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