Synopses & Reviews
In the tradition of Angela Carter, this luminous, spellbinding debut reinvents the stuff of myth.
Straying husbands lured into the sea by mermaids can be fetched back, for a fee. Trees can make wishes come true. Houses creak and keep a fretful watch on their inhabitants, straightening shower curtains and worrying about frayed carpets. A mother, who seems alone and lonely, may be rubbing sore muscles or holding the hands of her invisible lover as he touches her neck. Phantom hounds roam the moors and, on a windy beach, a boy and his grandmother beat back despair with an old white door.
In these stories, the line between the real and the imagined is blurred as Lucy Wood takes us to Cornwall’s ancient coast, building on its rich storytelling history and recasting its myths in thoroughly contemporary ways. Calling forth the fantastic and fantastical, she mines these legends for that bit of magic remaining in all our lives—if only we can let ourselves see it.
"A wonderfully written book, ironical, cerebral, elegant." Joyce Carol Oates, The New York Times Book Review
"She writes a prose that lends itself to magnificent set pieces of fastidious sensuality...dreams, myths, fairy tales, metamorphoses, the unruly unconscious, epic journeys, and a highly sensual celebration of sexuality in both its most joyous and darkest manifestations." Ian McEwan
"Carter not only switches her narrative into the wholly explicit but turns the passive predicament of the heroine into one in which the convention of female role-playing seems to have no part, only brisk and derisisve common sense, the best feminine tactic in a tight corner. The tales are retold by Angla Carter with all her supple and intoxicating bravura." The New York Review of Books
"She was, among other things, a quirky, original, and baroque styleist, a trait especially marked in The Bloody Chamber her vocabulary a mix of finely tuned phrase, luscious adjective, witty aphorism, and hearty, up-theirs vulgarity." Margaret Atwood, The Observer
"A wonderfully written book, ironical, cerebral, elegant."
Joyce Carol Oates, The New York Times Book Review
"She writes a prose that lends itself to magnificent set pieces of fastidious sensuality
dreams, myths, fairy tales, metamorphoses, the unruly unconscious, epic journeys, and a highly sensual celebration of sexuality in both its most joyous and darkest manifestations."
"Carter not only switches her narrative into the wholly explicit but turns the passive predicament of the heroine into one in which the convention of female role-playing seems to have no part, only brisk and derisisve common sense, the best feminine tactic in a tight corner. The tales are retold by Angla Carter with all her supple and intoxicating bravura."
The New York Review of Books
"She was, among other things, a quirky, original, and baroque styleist, a trait especially marked in The Bloody Chamber – her vocabulary a mix of finely tuned phrase, luscious adjective, witty aphorism, and hearty, up-theirs vulgarity."
Margaret Atwood, The Observer
"Lucy Wood is a sorceress. These stories unfold in a dreamy marine light, one that reveals the miraculous in the everyday. Diving Belles
is a perfect name for this debut: It is guaranteed to enrapture a reader, and you'll want to come up slowly from its depths."
—Karen Russell, author of Swamplandia! and St. Lucys Home for Girls Raised by Wolves
"What sets British writer Wood apart... is how grounded the magical element is in the reality of her stories... The magic is always embedded, not only in familiar stories from folklore, but in the personal myths of the characters' lives. Thus there is a quiet realism to even the most extraordinary events... This combination of subtle humor and everyday magic makes Diving Belles an engaging collection of contemporary folklore."
—Minneapolis Star Tribune
"How easily Lucy Wood in Diving Belles makes magic. In story after story in her debut collection, a previously inert world becomes animated... If part of the exercise of magic is to remind us of the malleable texture of perception (and to awaken our child-like awe at the world), then the magic in 'Notes from the House Spirits' is a wonderful success. Throughout, Wood sprinkles a measured amount of magic, just enough so the rational self can slip away and let the reader wake up her perception and her childlike astonishment at the world again."
“Diving Belles is a lovely, absorbing collection of tales, animated by Lucy Wood's remarkable gift for evoking Cornwall as both a physical and mythic place. She is writing out of a rich tradition yet making it utterly her own.”
—Sarah Shun-lien Bynum, author of Ms. Hempel Chronicles and Madeleine Is Sleeping
"Each year, book blurbs tell you that a thousand new writers have fresh, distinctive voices. But fresh, distinctive voices are actually very rare. Lucy Wood has one."
—Michel Faber, author of The Crimson Petal and the White
"Lucy Wood has an intensity and clarity of expression, deeply rooted in a sense of place. Her stories have a purity and strength, and an underlying human warmth; they resonate in the mind."
—Philip Hensher, author of The Northern Clemency
"These stories are brilliantly uncanny: not because of the ghosts and giants and talking birds which haunt their margins, but because of what those unsettling presences mean for the very human characters at their centre ... A startling, and startlingly good, debut."
—Jon McGregor, author of If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things
"These are stories from the places where magic and reality meet. It is as if the Cornish moors and coasts have whispered secrets into Lucy Woods ears and, in response, she has fashioned exquisite tales of mystery and humanity. In her prose, the fabulous moves across the everyday like the surf moving over the shore, shifting it in subtle measures, leaving it altered in its wake."
—Ali Shaw, author of The Girl with Glass Feet
"Wood captures something fresh, fantastical and eloquent...These stories express a distinctive voice and a gently beguiling imagination." —Kirkus "Whimsical...Lovers of fairy tales and Celtic lore will take pleasure in immersing themselves in the rich, magical world Woods tales inhabit." —Booklist "Aching and mystical...These are distinctively grown-up fairy tales that re-create a sense of wonder and imagination without the moral endings of their childhood counterparts, but, like them, linger in the imagination." —Publishers Weekly
“Magical and bewitching tales.”
“Woods finely wrought collection has touches of a benign Angela Carter and recalls the playful yet political transmogrifications of Atwood and Byatt ... Dreamily nuanced.”
"These tales are soaked in the magic and folklore of the place—but the magic is often an expression of inexpressible human emotion…Woods imagination is extraordinary; she has an instinct for the inner meanings of myths that echoes the great Angela Carter. Superb."
—The Times (UK)
"A vibrant new voice ... Why read it: for her distinctive voice and sense of place."
—Tatler, "Top Titles" (UK)
"Llovely and intriguing ... Wood pulls off a careful balancing act between fantasy and reality, folkloric past and prosaic present...Winsome, quirky, and sometimes enchanting, Woods stories seem to fish about in rock pools of imagination... Her gift… is for conjuring up gentle suspensions of disbelief."
—The Sunday Times (UK)
"Cornish folklore for the modern day, done in a beautiful, spooky way."
—Harpers Bazaar (UK)
"This bewitching short story collection draws its power from a deft blend of Cornish folklore and everyday contemporary cares. Centered mostly around women—young women, old women, women becalmed somewhere in between—magic encroaches upon their narratives as slowly but surely as the incoming tide, so that even the most outlandish goings-on come to seem natural."
—Daily Mail (UK)
"A winning combination of spooky mystery and toast-and-tea coziness, with much warmth and tenderness."
—Metro (UK), 4/5 stars
"Cornwalls magic casts some pretty strong spells. The stories in Lucy Woods debut collection have a distinctly otherworldly sensation to them—slightly surreal, steeped in enchantments and shimmering with an infusion of the areas folklore and landscape… Wood strikes a sure and canny balance of worlds colliding and merging; her wry and gentle humor emphasizes that fusion all the more."
—Independent on Sunday (UK)
From familiar fairy tales and legends Red Riding Hood, Bluebeard, Puss-in-Boots, Beauty and the Beast, vampires, werewolves Angela Carter has created an absorbing collection of dark, sensual, fantastic stories.
From familiar fairy tales and legends – Red Riding Hood, Bluebeard, Puss-in-Boots, Beauty and the Beast, vampires, werewolves – Angela Carter has created an absorbing collection of dark, sensual, fantastic stories.
This whimsical and spellbinding debut collection of stories creates fresh and contemporary tales of how magic and myth work in our everyday lives, as it mines the rich folklore and history of Cornwall.
About the Author
Angela Carter (19401992) wrote nine novels and numerous short stories, as well as nonfiction, radio plays, and the screenplay for Neil Jordan's 1984 movie The Company of Wolves, based on her story. She won numerous literary awards, traveled and taught widely in the United States, and lived in London.
Table of Contents
Diving Belles 1
Countless Stones 20
Of Mothers and Little People 39
Lights in Other Peoples Houses 54
The Giants Boneyard 90
Notes from the House Spirits 130
The Wishing Tree 147
Blue Moon 170
Some Drolls Are Like That and Some Are Like This 205