Monday, 7 March 2016

BOOK REVIEW | 'Sweet Home' by Carys Bray (****)

Hello, readers! I hope you have all had a good weekend and are looking forward to the week ahead (especially those of you who were lucky enough to experience snow!) Today I'm really excited to share with you a book review- of Carys Bray's delightful book of short stories Sweet Home. I love a good book of short stories and am always on the lookout for new ones- but more often than not they slip under the radar of novels and are hardly ever on the bestsellers' list. Therefore, I was so happy to get my hands on a copy of Sweet Home- which was kindly sent to be by the author herself in exchange for an honest review! Sweet Home is a collection of short stories particularly on parents and parenting, but also just on life and the many foibles of humanity. With an eccentric and ethereal voice Carys Bray explores what it means to feel, what it means to live and what it means to simply be.

Intrigued? Here's the blurb...

A bereaved mother borrows her next door neighbor’s baby. An outsider builds a gingerbread house at the edge of an English village. A woman is seduced into buying special-offer babies at the supermarket. A father is reminded of his son as he watches the rescue of a group of Chilean miners. A little boy attempts to engineer a happily ever after following the death of his sister. 

With psychological insight and a lightness of touch frequently found in fairy tales, Bray delves under the surface of ordinary lives to explore loss, disappointment, frustrated expectations and regret. Described as ‘not just excellent, but significant,’ by poet and critic Robert Sheppard, these dark and lyrical stories illuminate extraordinary and everyday occurrences with humanity and humour.

To put it simply, I adored Sweet Home. As with all good short story collections, each story brought something different to the mix: humour, lyricism, grief, regret, and hope. Each story has a steady grounding in suburban life, but some stories also have a touch of fairytale to them, making for a closely tied together yet utterly distinctive set of short stories. The one thing that makes all the stories similar is the strong element of truth: each story is told in a way that is achingly honest, utterly pained and unflinchingly real. Carys Bray captures exactly what family is and how dark and complex family life can sometimes be- but she does this in a way that still radiates hope.

 The length of each story was perfect and I didn't feel unsatisfied which can happen with some not-so-great short story collections, where it is clear the author wants to write a whole novel. Carys Bray is clearly a passionate and accomplished short story writer, who can effortlessly dive into the minds of her characters, and keep the reader hooked from the first page to the very last one. The writing was beautiful and haunting, and I hung onto every single word. I felt so close to each and every character, and this kind of feeling can only be achieved by superbly crafted writing. 


My favourite stories in the collection have to be The Rescue (a story about a drug-addicted young man and the affect this has on his family), The Ice Baby (a story about a baby who is carved out of ice for a woman yearning for a baby) and Baby Aisle (a story commenting on 'falling' into parenthood and class divides, imagining a world where one can buy babies from the 'baby aisle' in Tesco). Each of these affected me in different ways, and they all commented on different aspects of grief, loss and parenthood, but I adored them all equally.

I would highly encourage you all to read Sweet Home, even if you've never read a short story collection before! Carys Bray is a wonderful writer and I can't wait to read her novel The Museum of You very soon <3

Buy Sweet Home here: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Sweet-Home-Carys-Bray/dp/1844719065

Check out Carys Bray here: http://carysbray.co.uk

Until next time :)