Astray by Emma Donoghue

Some authors are fantastic at novels, but their short stories are less than satisfactory. For some authors, it’s the other way around. And then, there are the select few that really have a grasp on both realms. With Astray, Emma Donoghue proves herself to be a member of this elite group.

Astray is a collection of short stories joined by the fact that they are all, in some regard, based on true events. Whether the inspiration was a newspaper snippet discussing the sale of an elephant, or a series of letters that remain from a husband amidst the Industrial Revolution, Donoghue crafts some truly intriguing stories based on these existing artifacts from the past.

Some stories shine more than others. “The Gift,” for instance, is a beautifully wrought tale conveying the heartbreak experienced by a birth mother and adoptive parents as a child is fought over. Another captivating tale is “The Lost Seed,” which relates a Puritan’s fear of the overwhelming amount of sin that he fears is consuming his community.

Really, my only complaint is that some stories are really good, while others are just good. The stories in Astray are just long enough to leave readers wanting more, but no too long to be cumbersome. Fast-moving and fascinating, Astray is definitely a worthwhile read.


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