All Shall be Well by Stephanie Tillotson and Penny Thomas
|All Shall be Well by Stephanie Tillotson and Penny Thomas|
|Reviewer: Sue Magee|
|Summary: A very-readable anthology of the best of short fiction and non-fiction pieces written by Welsh women - produced to celebrate twenty five years of Honno publishing. Stephanie popped into Bookbag Towers to tell us about the last 25 years.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 256||Date: May 2012|
|Publisher: Honno Welsh Women's Press|
Twenty five years - a quarter of a century - is a long time. It's an incredible length of time as an independent publisher, particularly one which specialises in publishing the best in Welsh women's writing, but that's exactly what Honno have achieved. To celebrate the occasion they've published this anthology of twenty five short stories and non-fiction pieces. They've previously been seen in the numerous anthologies published by Honno but when combined they give an interesting and enlightening insight into the work of these great writers.
With an anthology any review almost inevitably begins with the caveat that some pieces are stronger than others. It's true here, but with the distinction that there's nothing which I would regard as weak - possibly not entirely to my taste, but certainly never weak. The first story, by Patricia Duncker - How to Murder Your Mother brought the mother from hell off the page so completely that it sent shivers down my spine. The denouement was so completely right and totally unexpected.
The most touching story came from Jan Fortune and it's the title piece - All Shall be Well - in which she tells of her experience as a young woman hoping to enter the priesthood. It tells much about the writer but more about the church and its attitudes to women. I read with a growing sense of horror, delighted (I'm sorry to confess) to have all my preconceptions about church men confirmed so eloquently. Of the non-fiction pieces Emily Bond's story about Belsen (which I nearly skipped, fearing that I would be taking my pleasures too sadly) was surprisingly uplifting, but the piece which will stay with me the longest was Molly Parkin's Sleeping with the Enemy. She's someone I've known of all my life, but it was fascinating to fill in the gaps.
It's a great pity that poet Elin ap Hywel rarely writes short stories, as The Food of Love is superb, with its discussion of the first meals which various people had with their lovers - the good, the bad and the downright dangerous - and a sting in the tail which brought tears to my eyes. Sarah Jackman's Swimming had the reverse effect as a teenager sorts out her priorities and I punched the air with delight at the end.
The pinnacle for me was The Madness of Winifred Owen by Bertha Thomas in which Winifed has the help of of a local doctor - but one who does not practice - in ensuring that she marries the man she wants to marry and not the man her father has in mind. It's neat, it's eloquent and very satisfying.
I'm not going to go through all the stories. Different ones will strike a chord with every reader but I'd be very surprised if there were not several which appealed to anyone. I thoroughly enjoyed it and I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to the Bookbag.
Over the years we've met several very good authors courtesy of Honno. we think you'll enjoy anything by Lorraine Jenkin. For another of their anthologies have a look at Cut on the Bias by Stephanie Tillotson.
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