Shannon (Giraffe Days)'s Reviews > Home Schooling

Home Schooling by Carol Windley
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I don't normally read short stories, they tend to feel very conscious of their limited space, and the characters are often empty names on pages to me. Home Schooling is nothing like that. Each story offers up, in beautiful, lyrical prose, intense details about the characters, their pasts, their issues, their relationships, yet nothing is crammed, none of the stories are full of junk - there's not a single wasted or irrelevant sentence.

There are common elements running through these stories - death and, in the least melodramatic sense, rebirth; love and loss; the transient essence of the landscape and the people occupying its space.

My favourite story? Too difficult. I loved "Home Schooling", where the landscape, so vividly portrayed, reminded me a little of the wild moors in Wuthering Heights. Annabel sees the ghosts of previous occupants, the two sisters, Jane and Freddy, who used to live in their big old house-come-school, and a famous actress, and imagines them conversing with each other, having tea together, giving advice.

I enjoyed "Felt Skies" for the minor character of Dr. Bergius, a lonely man who looks like Freud, who finally escapes medicine for his dream of owning a radio station. He hovers by Rachel's desk, chats up her mum, and reminisces about his own Mother and now-deceased wife Eva. Each character in these stories, whether likeable or not, is fully realised, with insights coming from the central characters' knowledge as well as through the characters themselves, as they betray their human traits.

These stories captured an often chilly, misty unreality-within-reality -or perhaps it's a reality-within-unreality? They are not about large events but personal moments, moments of reflection, realisation and understanding. They work supremly well as short stories, and after reading each one take a moment to absorb it all.
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