Sunday 20 September 2015


Finished September 17
Astray by Emma Donoghue

This collection of stories were inspired by historical incidents. Ideas were picked up from newspaper stories, letters, and history books.The book is divided into three sections: Departures; In Transit; and Arrivals and Aftermaths. It is similar to another collection of stories by Donoghue that I read years ago The Woman Who Gave Birth to Rabbits. Again here, she includes the material that inspired here at the end of each story. For some it was just one small mention that inspired, for others it was a several mentions in different sources or a collection of material. Most are from the 1800s, but one is set in the 1600s, two in the 1700s, one in 1901, and one in 1967.
She fleshes out the little information she has to become realistic characters, and makes the stories come alive. Stories include a zoo attendant and the elephant he looks after, a lower middle-class woman driven to prostitution to support her family, a woman whose husband was declared dead when he went on a journey, a slave and his master's wife running off together, An Irish woman immigrating to Canada with her children to join her husband, two young men panning for gold in the Yukon, A western woman who led an unusual life, a group of men conspiring to steal a body for ransom, a woman forced to put her infant on an orphan train when she couldn't support him, accusations of sexual sins by one resident against others, A young Creole woman bored with her life and aspiring to more, a young mercenary fighting for the British in the American Revolutionary War, a young woman discovering a surprising truth about her father after his death, and two female sculptors that live together. Interesting tidbits of history brought to life


  1. Wow, that's a lot of short stories in one collection! I don't usually like short stories, but I like the idea of fleshing out a historical incident, and it sounds like there's such a variety, I ought to be able to find at least one I like! I love the cover, too.

  2. Yes, it is an interesting premise, and as I mentioned, she used it in a previous collection as well.