Sunday, 1 February 2015

The challenge – 13 short stories in 13 days–No. 11 and 12

The American Lover

by

Rose Tremain

Story 11 – Lucy and Gaston

Lucy cannot go near the water. She fears the sea which she believes is the resting place of her wartime pilot husband, father of her only child, a daughter he never knew.

Across the Channel in France, Gaston stubbornly refuses to let his son  Paul plant trees in the flood prone meadow of their farm in order to improve the drainage. His father had been very keen to plant willows in the very same spot but never did because he was killed on the road home during the war.

Tremain paints an emotional tapestry of events to tie their two stories together in both wartime and mid 1970s time ending in Lucy’s release from her fear. 

Story 12 The Closing Door

Single mother sees only daughter off at the train station to her first term at boarding school. Both are distraught. Mother follows two other mothers, much happier at the departure of their children, home to see what life she has been missing.

I thought this was perhaps the weakest of the stories so far, perhaps because I am neither a mother nor boarding school educated girl I felt it difficult to relate to this story on any level. The old adage “When one door closes another opens” springs to mind and all I felt at the end of this story was predictably the door was opening for the child, but as for the mother….it was her who was left at a loss in unfamiliar territory, both geographically having followed the women to Sloane Square instead of going home to Muswell Hill and emotionally, wanting to exclaim “I don’t know what I’m meant to do now”.

ashramblings verdict  - No. 12 was probably my least enjoyed story of the collection so far, perhaps I was just missing something in it? To me it didn’t have the intensity that her other stories have had.  I read somewhere that many of the stories in this collection had been published separately elsewhere, so maybe it was written earlier, I just don’t know. But something didn’t gel with it for me.

Last story tomorrow!

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