Book Review: Astray, Emma Donoghue

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With the turn of each page, the characters that roam across these pages go astray. They are emigrants, runaways, drifters; gold miners and counterfeiters, attorneys and slaves. They cross borders of race, law, sex, and sanity. They travel for love or money, under duress or incognito. A sequence of fourteen fact-inspired fictions about travels to, in and from North America, Astray offers a past in scattered pieces, a surprising and moving history for restless times.

Publisher:  Picador, May 2013

Reviewer:  Anita Hunt

Definitely one of the best story collections I’ve read.  I sometimes find with story collections there are stories I love, ones I think are “OK”, and others I don’t particularly like. Not in this case. Every single story is brilliant in its own way. There is enough variety in Astray to keep everyone happy. I particularly liked the last one which is a very interesting read considering the choice of characters (shall allow people to read that and judge what I mean). I loved the opening story about the elephant, it was touching to read. There are characters in every story which the author has got into the heart of and they all seem “real” and not just a “person in a book”. Loved the use of the different characters in different places and circumstances. I loved the “Afterword” and am almost tempted to say “read the Afterword first” as it explains a lot.  Enjoyed the historical details in the stories – it showed they were well researched, made the stories interesting and you weren’t bombarded with facts and figures.

Will definitely be reading more of this author’s work and highly recommend anyone wanting an interesting read.

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