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The China Factory

3.93  ·  Rating Details  ·  123 Ratings  ·  29 Reviews
An elderly schoolteacher recalls the single act of youthful passion that changed her life forever; a young gardener has an unsettling encounter with a suburban housewife; a wife who miscalculated the guarantees of marriage embarks upon an online affair. And in the title story a teenage girl strikes up an unlikely friendship with a lonely bachelor.

Love, loss, betrayal. Grie
Paperback, 176 pages
Published May 3rd 2012 by The Stinging Fly Press (first published 2012)
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(showing 1-30 of 349)
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Annemarie Neary
Jan 23, 2013 Annemarie Neary rated it it was amazing
In her debut collection, Mary Costello has produced something more significant than most writers do in an entire career. Each superbly crafted story carries a novel’s worth of characterisation, insight and empathy. If you still consider the short story incapable of satisfying you, try these ones! In some respects, Costello is on well-trodden ground (for the Irish short story, at least) - emotional isolation, failure of communication, the death of hope. But this is a world where traditional Irela ...more
Each story in this collection of a dozen is a gem. That is not common with volumes of short stories, with the exception, perhaps of Alice Munro. These stories exemplify what I look for in a short story. They can be glimpses of moments and they can convey the essence of an entire life or relationship. Many of these stories also illuminate life in Ireland in particular such as the title story 'The China Factory'. The final story 'The Sewing Room' set in Northern Ireland, captures an entire life as ...more
Feb 08, 2013 Laura rated it liked it
Recommended to Laura by: Bettie
From BBC Radio 4 Extra - Debut
Niamh Cusack reads this sharply observed story about a marriage in crisis from Mary Costello's acclaimed debut collection
Jun 18, 2014 Alan rated it it was amazing
Shelves: short-stories
another great irish short story writer, apparently.

correct, another great Irish short storywriter. I am being a little generous with the stars here, as one or two stories may be a little under 5, but I did engage fully with this book, just my thing. Often about the usual - unwanted pregnancy, retirement, infidelity, an email romance that is 'spoiled' by becoming 'real life', a shy man who steps forward in a difficult situation causing re-appraisal - it's the mature, steady way the stories are h
Jen Squire
Apr 04, 2015 Jen Squire rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This debut collection of 12 short stories is as powerful as a dozen great novels - I wrote about my experience of reading it on my blog here
Aug 18, 2012 Jesse rated it it was amazing
Lovely language in these lyrical stories describing love, hurt, regret, and more--the stuff of life. Beautifully mature collection of stories.
Jun 24, 2016 Eleanor rated it really liked it
Read this on the strength of Acadamy
Street - and there were stories that were up to that dizzy height.
Vivian Valvano
Sep 01, 2015 Vivian Valvano rated it really liked it
I continue to be blown away by the talent of Irish author Mary Costello. Taken together, these stories comprise a series of studies in loneliness, loss, memory, regret, solitude, and meditation. All are good; several are gems. Protagonists are both male and female, and Costello is adept at penetrating the consciousnesses of both genders. One tale is the original attempt at what eventually became the superb novel "Academy Street." It is fascinating to see how a very good story evolved into a grea ...more
David Stone
May 21, 2015 David Stone rated it really liked it
Mary Costello’s book of twelve short stories, The China Factory, isn’t a soft read…it isn’t sanguine…it’s not trying to make you laugh, make you feel better about yourself…but, this dearth of positivity doesn’t discount the excellence of the prose, the verisimilitude of her story-lines. Like her slender novel, Academy Street, herein Ms. Costello’s characters speak of loneliness, mournfulness, love lost, love destroyed, unfortunate choices made, mordant discontent of the inertial motion of one’s ...more
Apr 23, 2013 Marianne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The China Factory is a collection of twelve short stories, the first collection by Irish author, Mary Costello. Costello’s superbly crafted stories are about a range of ordinary people: a retiring teacher, a young woman just finished school, an elderly man facing the end of his life, a young landscape gardener, a ten-year-old girl, a young mother, a middle-aged schools inspector, a bitter bachelor, an insomniac husband, a suspicious wife. Her stories involve every day events, but also life-chang ...more
Ted Farrell
Jun 04, 2015 Ted Farrell rated it really liked it
I've never been a great fan of the short story, but the stories in this book are very good. The writing is beautiful. The characters come across as real people. My problem with the collection is that all the stories are incredibly sad. The principal characters are unhappy people, people who for the most part, have fallen out of love. The cumulative result is pretty depressing.
Ashley Judge
Jun 24, 2015 Ashley Judge rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My favorite was "Who will pay Charon" and the Sewing room.
This is a collection of 12 short stories by an Irish writer, all stories set in Ireland. Very sad stories that stay with you after you've closed the book. Lyrical and thought provoking. I will leave this book on my nightstand and read one or two stories now and then.
Katie Cruel
Jan 08, 2013 Katie Cruel rated it really liked it
Shelves: literary-fiction
I debated between three and four stars. I have issues with the narrative structure of her stories-- they all follow the same jumpy flashback, flash forward, present, etc, again and again pattern, which I think is fine if used sparingly, but becomes monotonous in a cycle of stories. I walked away, also, with the impression Costello only knows how to write one sort of story: the characters in each story seem comparable, as do their anxieties about life and their situations. The only thing I could ...more
Justine Delaney
Nov 28, 2014 Justine Delaney rated it really liked it
Beautiful book of short stories. Lovely mentions of County Galway. Last story espically moving. Many thanks Olywn for recommendation. Congrat to Mary Costello on recent award. Looking forward to reading novel
John Bartlett
Jul 04, 2013 John Bartlett rated it really liked it
I'm a great fan of short stories and know how hard they can be to get just right.
This is a wonderful collection, people dancing about each other, trying and often failing to relate.
Costello deals gently with her characters and although not much happens in stories here, there is a strong undercurrent of emotion, expressed or withheld.
The collection is worth reading if only for the final story in the collection - 'The Sewing Room', a compassionate story about an older retiring teacher looking bcak
Jun 09, 2016 Marta rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Beautifully written, this collection of short stories left me emotionally exhausted. The prose is simple and honest, but manages to convey all the feelings of hurt, guilt and isolation that plague these stories about ordinary life.
Mar 11, 2014 Gisela rated it it was amazing
Beautifully observed and written but quite melancholy so don't read it if you are looking for something cheery. :)
Nov 28, 2014 Suzy rated it it was amazing
"And Who Will Pay For Charon?" is worth many stories.
Jan 31, 2014 Jane rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I don't normally read short stories but I heard the author interviewed on ABC RN and her reading of a section of one of these stories was so beautiful I'm giving it a go !
Jul 10, 2013 Emma rated it really liked it
Costello tackles big themes—sickness, death, betrayal, and infidelity—with an economy of words. I still find myself coming back to certain images: a blood stain on the back of a mother’s nightdress; a lame pigeon; a wife washing potatoes in her kitchen after a rendezvous with a lover. I'm also fascinated by the recurring paradox of intimate strangers and estranged lovers.
Niamh Griffin
A gripping collection of stories, each one a gem in its own right. Every word feels carefully chosen and is perfectly placed. I've lived a dozen lives while exploring these vivid tales in the past month and I've no doubt I will re-read this powerful, emotionally charged, inspiring anthology again and again.
Jun 10, 2014 Harry rated it liked it
Lovely book of short stories, subtle emotions playing throughout all the characters. Warm and intimate and melancholic might be the best description for this collection by an Irish writer.
Jun 01, 2013 Cyndie rated it liked it
Filled with this sense of inescapable melancholy that is expressed beautifully - the way a funeral air can be heartbreaking and moving at the same time.
Sep 16, 2015 Cathie rated it it was ok
started so may well finish. The first couple of stories where really good. the rest just didn't capture my attention.
Oct 04, 2012 Caroline rated it it was amazing
Amazing short stories and characters that I'll never forget.
Ken Mannion
May 08, 2013 Ken Mannion marked it as to-read
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Anne Coll
May 19, 2013 Anne Coll rated it really liked it
Beautiful writing although all stories had so much sadness.
Jean Lemm
Not very thrilling
Lisa Lawlor
Lisa Lawlor marked it as to-read
Jun 26, 2016
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Mary Costello lives in Dublin. Her collection of short stories, The China Factory, was nominated for the Guardian First Book Award. Academy Street is her first novel.
More about Mary Costello...

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