Kate's Reviews > Elementals: Stories of Fire and Ice

Elementals by A.S. Byatt
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's review
Apr 12, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: fiction, folklore-legend-mythology, gothic, magical-realism, read-unowned
Read from October 21 to 23, 2011

"Crocodile Tears" is very sad. Patricia's husband dies suddenly. In shock, she leaves town and runs away, hoping to fall off the map. In Nimes, she meets a man named Nils, a Norwegian, who is also running from grief. The two form an uneasy friendship, in a French city surrounded at every turn by crocodiles in the very architecture.

"A Lamia in the Cevennes" This was a story about a painter and his awesome pool! Which was invaded by a creepy snake. Who turned out to be a woman. Not sure how I feel about this story. But I don't like snakes.

"Cold" is a fairy tale. Fiammarosa is the thirteenth child, and the only daughter of her parents, the King and Queen of her country. It seems that running through her veins is that of an ancestor, who was an ice princess. Fiammarosa loves nothing more than to dance naked in the ice and snow. Naturally, she falls in love with a fire prince. They have many difficulties, literally melting is one of them. So he builds her a palace of ice - such a thing is only possible in fairytales. I loved it.

"Baglady" is creepy. It feels futuristic and dangerous. I'm not sure I liked this one. Luckily, it is short, like Byatt couldn't figure out what to do with it.

"Jael" is one woman's thought on a Bible story, and her thoughts on memory and story telling.

"Christ in the House of Martha and Mary" is about the painter Velazquez's subjects for his painting of the same name. I liked this one. But then, I like Velazquez.

All in all, "Elementals" is aptly named. It deals with all sorts of elements: nature, human nature, love, hate, despair, elements of writing, painting, learning. Byatt is so good.

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