Astray – a short story review

When I read an author I admire, I often wonder what inspires their stories. Emma Donoghue provides the answers in this wonderful collection of historical fiction shorts about castaways, immigrants and lost souls. Each story contains an afterward referencing her inspiration — sometimes a newspaper article, sometimes a moment in history or famous court cases.

I appreciated reading the fiction story first, falling enveloped into the tiny worlds Donoghue created in a few short pages, before I knew the germ of the fact that inspired her writing. Finishing the whole collection in one day, I greedily moved from one story to the next, soaking up the atmosphere that holds the whole book together.

For all the praise and notoriety Room brought Donoghue a couple of years ago, Astray is a return to her earlier work. The characters all seem smeared in Dickensian grime, the streets are dirty and unfriendly, and the outcomes are rarely pleasant.

No tidy bows, no pat solutions to life’s challenges — just good, tight stories about interesting characters.

Loved it.

2 thoughts on “Astray – a short story review

  1. This is the second or third post about Astray that I’ve read in the last week or so. It sounds so fantastic! I loved Room and would love to read more of Donoghue’s writing. I’m especially intrigued that each story is followed by an afterword describing her inspiration to write the story; it’s so interesting to get inside an author’s head and see what makes her tick!

    Nice post 🙂


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