Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction, Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel, Post Colonial Asian Fiction, The Legacy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and quality Historical Novels are Among my Interests

Thursday, July 14, 2011

"The Mauve Throw" by Sarah Hilary

"The Mauve Throw" by Sarah Hilary (2011, 8 pages)

The Short Story Thrives in the U.K.
A Great Story from Sarah Hilary

Today I want to post on an excellent short story by a new to me writer, Sarah Hilary (from Bristol in the U. K.)     Sarah and I have a common bond in that we are both tremendous admirers of the short stories of Katherine Mansfield.   My first knowledge of the work of Sarah Hilary came through Twitter when we became mutual followers.   A quick glance at her web page revealed that her short stories had won or been short listed for lots of prestigious awards, including the  very prestigious Sean O'Faolain award.

"The Mauve Throw" centers on a cancer patient, Helen, her husband Jimmy and her adult step daughter Gabrielle.   The beauty in this story is in the understated way the 
profound courage of Helen is shown to us.   The story covers several different days in Helen's life.    As it opens she is sitting in her car which has broken down by the highway.   Here we first begin to learn of the effects of the reconstructive surgery done on her face to repair the cancer damage.

"She experienced smells through her mouth now - rather than her nose".

Helen can taste the smell of the young policeman who helped her when her car was broken down.   This  made me wonder how this would feel and helped project me into the mind of Helen.

Seven years ago the doctors told her she had 24 months left.    She almost ceases to exist knowing or feeling she has no real future.   I really liked these lines about her attitude toward her life:

"A day was any ten hours which reasonably suggested movement, hygiene and social interaction.   A day could be constructed - you just had to go through the motions and it was there".

One of the most interesting aspects of this story concerns the relationship of Helen and her young adult daughter Gabrielle (Gabby).    We are left to ponder how living with a step mother basically under a death sentence has impinged on her life.   Gabby works in an animal shelter.    I could not help but wonder if spending her teen age years in a household necessarily preoccupied with medical issues  had lead her to a life spent caring for sick animals.    Maybe one pain can be carried and one cannot.

I do not want to tell too much of the plot of this very well written and skillfully wrought story.   In just a few pages Hilary creates the lives of three people.   There is much in this brilliant story I  have left out. 

You can learn more and read part of the story HERE

 I will greatly look forward to following the writing career of Sarah Hilary.

Links to some of her short stories and more biographical detail can be found at her web page Crawl Space.

Additional information on "The Mauve Throw" can be found at the publisher's web  page  including a readable section and purchasing information.  

Mel u

I think Hilary has the potential to develop into an important short story writer and I felt my time spent in reading "The Mauve Throw" was well rewarded.   I read it three times.

Mel u


Sarah Hilary said...

Thank you, Mel, for this generous and kind review. I hope your readers will enjoy The Mauve Throw as much as you did.

Short Story Slore said...

I love finding new to me authors. It helps to balance out reading established/popular authors and to be able to follow someone's career from the beginning.

Sarah Hilary said...

Thank you, Short Story Slore. I'm following your blog now - another great way to meet new writers and readers.