Sunday 25 May 2014

Saints and Sinners

Finished May 22
Saints and Sinners by Edna O'Brien, read by Suzanne Bertish

This collection of ten short stories is all about the people and their relationships with each other. Starting with the story The Shovel Kings, we see a woman who encounters an Irishman in a London bar and learns his story, how he came to London as a boy, hoping to make his fortune and return home to a better life, but ended up not fitting in in either place, an exile in both the city he lived most of his life in and the country he calls home.
In Sinners, the landlady of a bed and breakfast is disgusted by the antics of the trio of people staying in her inn one night and makes it clear to them the next morning.
Madame Cassandra has a woman with marital troubles trying to visit a psychic to learn of her future and what she has told others.
Black Flower has a art teacher who has worked with prison inmates going on an outing with a recently released political prisoner who is a target for revenge still.
Plunder has a young girl caught in a siege, in an unnamed country.
Inner Cowboy has a developmentally delayed young man caught up through circumstance in two different crimes, despite his innocence.
Green Georgette has a young girl describing her and her mother's experience of class division in a small town.
Manhattan Medley has a woman who has moved to the city and gotten caught up into an affair with a well-known married man.
In Send My Roots Rain, a librarian perpetually disappointed in love waits in a hotel lobby for a teatime meeting with a famous poet, reflecting on her past experiences.
And lastly in My Two Mothers, a young woman describes her own view of a mother who left for America, but returned to marry and is touched by that experience.
O'Brien's writing is lyrical and emotive and full of the feelings of her characters. The one problem of listening to this in audio format is not being able to stop and savour the writing, to jot down one's favourite passages. She is a master storyteller.

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