Published: Odyssey Books
Date: September 30th 2017
Genre: Short Stories
Source: the Author
|A dandelion. A mayfly. A family, bereft. Items and mementos of a life, lived hard and with love, or long, empty, bitter.
In these sharply drawn and unflinching short stories, Rebecca Burns unpicks the connection between the lives we live and what we leave behind.
Artefacts by Rebecca Burns has seventeen short stories, each of them containing a small vignette – a window into the lives of people in different times and settings. I am not usually a short story reader, yet I found myself reading each story and relishing its evocative writing and characters who mostly somehow wormed their way into my heart.
One of my favourite stories as The Greatcoat. The story of a man returned from World War 1 and yet to hand in his greatcoat. An item of clothing that had seen him through the war and kept him warm. This story details the difficulty of returning to civilian life and the lost comrades. At the end of it I found myself truly very moved and swallowing a tear.
Another interesting story was The Bread Princess – it takes a series of bonnets displayed at a parish museum, describes it and then tells a little of the lives of the girls who wore these bonnets and how on a certain day they handed out bread to the poor.
Many of the stories have a little mystery in them, for example where did the shiny sequin come from – found in the shower by a woman living in the far north and her husband away as a salesman. What is a grandmother saying as she lays dying. What is the story of a blue baby bootie found as a woman cleans a gîte.
Another story I really was moved by was of a heart surgeon on leave because of a medical misadventure – on her part. Visiting Scotland she meets up with an older man who walks the beach and leaves with her what I think is a most outstanding and beautiful gift.
These stories explore death, loss, friendship, betrayal, greed, dissatisfaction, illness and important intimate moments. They look into human values, motives, desires, fears and hopes.
Rather like poetry these stories deserve to be revisited, lifted out one at a time; pondered at more depth. One reading of them does not do them justice.