Title: The Sing of the Shore
Writer: Lucy Wood
Publishing House: 4th Estate
Date of Publication: April 5th 2018
Rating: 5 stars
‘’Winters are when people disappear. One minute you’re elbow on the street, the next you walk along sidestepping nothing but the wind. Cafes put down their blinds. Houses are locked and dark. The car parks slowly empty and all that’s left on the beaches are a few forgotten shoes.’’
I came across The Sing of the Shore via Jen Campbell’s YouTube channel, a holy shrine for those of us who love our literature flavoured with a healthy dose of the strange and the misty. This collection of stories set in the wild, beautiful Cornish landscape is rich in bleakness, strange outcomes, misty characters, and beautiful, complex prose. I admit that during the first three stories I felt lost in space. I didn’t know what I was reading. I realized that my mental state wasn’t the proper one and I went back, read them again and let the words ‘’flood’’ my confused, occupied- by- tons of issues brain. This collection by Lucy Wood is one of the most beautiful,, demanding and strange works of the Literary Fiction genre. It is an ode to Cornwall, a realistic, harsh depiction of our struggle with nature, with the ones around us and with ourselves.
Cornwall…A name that brings so many images in our minds…In this majestic, ferocious scenery, human seem even more small, temporary, insignificant. The powerful presence of the sea is the heart of the collection. ‘’The Sing of the Shore’’ is the sound of the waves, breaking sands, rock, reefs alerting the sailormen and the fishermen as to their position when darkness and mists cover the land ahead. Here, the shore hides childhood dreams, family relationships, loneliness.
Children try to hold on the surface, swept away by their parents’ problems. Young parents try to meet the demands of their offsprings. People search for lost items, brought to land by the currants. Young friends try to make a living through leftovers. Others try to find their way through fields covered in mist, guided (or misled) by the sound of the sea. Two young sisters try to make sense of their changing childhood in a noisy funfair. A young boy grows up in the shadow of a father who desperately tries to tame the waves. Ghosts visit the domains of the mortals…
‘’ ‘They tell themselves they didn’t really see anything. And for a while they don’t see anything else. Everything goes back to how it was, until they come back one day and, as they’re getting out of their car, they happen to look across at their kitchen window. ‘ Fran stops and looks down at her tea. There’s half left but she still doesn’t drink it. ‘There’s hands pressed against it from the inside.’
‘’Actual’’ ghosts and the ghostly presence of the past form a wailing Chorus. Ghostly feelings, unfulfilled wishes and what-ifs cast a heavy shadow. And then there is the sea. Always the sea. A friend and a foe. A companion and a reminder of our mortality, of how tiny and unimportant we actually are.
A collection that is extremely difficult to describe. Give it time, be patient and let it haunt you. You won’t regret it…
‘’I even started drawing this book for kids, about a man who forgets where he lives and just wanders around from door to door, knocking. Sometimes people let him in but mostly they don’t.’’