I tend to only read short story collections if I am already a fan of the author through reading their novels. I've read and enjoyed both The Poisonwood Bible and The Lacuna by Kingsolver, so I was excited to see this collection available at the library. It contains twelve stories, all very different from each other but all united by their strong sense of place.
The stand out piece of the collection was the title story, Homeland. Gloria's Great-Grandmother is dying and her parents become convinced that Great Mam would like nothing more than to visit Cherokee as she is a Native American who once belonged to the Bird Clan. But when they get there, the commercialism and misrepresentation of the culture breaks Great Mam's heart and Gloria can't bear to watch. Other stories that I appreciated were Rose-Johnny, about prejudice towards those associated with mixed race families, Stone Dreams, about having the courage to move on in your life if you need to, and Blueprints, about loneliness within marriage.
In fact, all of the stories in this collection were well written and Kingsolver was able to hook me into each one very quickly, something essential for short story writing. But the best thing about the stories was the vivid backdrop that the setting for each provided. From the desert to hippie trailer parks to the deep South to St Lucia, Kingsolver bought each place alive and made it as much of a character as the actual humans in her stories. Thinking about it, this is exactly what I loved about The Poisonwood Bible and The Lacuna too - that experience of being transported to somewhere new.
As with any short story collection, there were some stories that weren't as strong as the others. Occasionally the female characters felt a bit too introspective and a bit too similar to each other but as a collection as a whole it's one of the strongest I've read. Recommended especially for armchair travellers.
First Published: 1989
Score: 3.5 out of 5
I am really not a fan of short stories, but I am a huge fan of Kingsolver -- I've read the same two you have. You've made me consider this one.... great review!ReplyDelete
Both Poisonwood Bible and Lacuna are great, aren't they? I think you would like this one because the writing is so good, regardless of whether you like the short story format or not.Delete
I'll look for this at the library as I love the sound of it. The Poisonwood Bible is one of my all-time favourite books and I wouldn't hesitate to try her short stories. I'm currently reading 'Stories' a short story collection edited by Neil Gaiman and Al Sorrantonio. A lot of different authors, quality a bit hit and miss but one or two gems. It's a good way to try new authors.ReplyDelete
The Poisonwood Bible is one of my favourites too, one of the few books I've reread more than once. Thanks for the recommendation, I'll see if my library system as a copy of 'Stories'.
This sounds nice - might have to dig these out!ReplyDelete
Hope you enjoy them Lyndsay :)Delete
I have this book on my shelf but haven't read it yet! I love Kingsolver's earlier works -- Animal Dreams and The Bean Trees particularly. Thanks for reminding me about this one.ReplyDelete
I haven't read either Animal Dreams or Bean Trees, although I definitely want to. Kingsolver is one of the few authors where I want to read everything she has written.Delete
This is an author I am yet to read, I have had her recommended to me a lot, and I have The Lacuna and The Poisonwood Bible on my to be read mountain.ReplyDelete
You will love Kingsolver! Start with The Posionwood Bible, it's the better of the two.
I am a huge Kingsolver fan. So far she hasn't written anything I didn't love. I have this book on my shelf waiting to be read and i am so looking forward to it :)ReplyDelete
I finally got around to reading The Poisonwood Bible about two months ago and I'm already eager to try some of her other work. Glad to hear it all gets similar reviews.ReplyDelete