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The Arrival of Missives

3.93  ·  Rating details ·  213 ratings  ·  57 reviews
In the aftermath of the Great War, Shirley Fearn dreams of challenging the conventions of rural England, where life is as unchanging as the seasons.

The scarred veteran Mr. Tiller, left disfigured by an impossible accident on the battlefields of France, brings with him a message: part prophecy, part warning.

As Shirley's village prepares for the annual May Day celebrations,
Paperback, 120 pages
Published May 9th 2016 by Unsung Stories
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3.93  · 
Rating details
 ·  213 ratings  ·  57 reviews

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Jean Menzies
Dec 27, 2016 rated it really liked it
Prior to reading this novella I had read Aliya Whiteley’s other short novel The Beauty and a selection of her short stories; all of which deeply unsettled and disturbed me (The Beauty genuinely gave me nightmares). This is not a criticism, however, Whiteley’s writing is beautifully addictive and I was ready to read anything she wrote. I, therefore, instantly requested a copy of The Arrival of the Missives upon its release. For one reason or another, it took me a few months before I actually got ...more
Eliza Graham
May 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing
The Arrival of Missives starts in a lyrical manner reminiscent of Hardy and Lawrence, depicting a rural world on the cusp of change after the First World War and a young woman who feels all the excitement of the modern and new. Then there's a twist, a big shift and the author takes us somewhere that reminded me a bit of Arthur C Clarke's Childhood's End. This novella encompasses big themes about what we wish for from life and how far we will go to protect our own vision of the future--both our o ...more
Jun 21, 2016 rated it really liked it
* I was sent this for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review *

This is a 120pg novella which is quite peculiar, yet quite charming too. We follow a young imaginative girl called Shirley who lives in a very small village and is filled with fanciful ideas about escaping her life. Shirley has a passion and an infatuation with the new man in town, Mr. Tiller, who also happens to be her school teacher. She's bright and she's filled with life, but as she learns more about Mr. Tiller a
Feb 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing
You can find my full review of The Arrival of Missives on my speculative fiction book blog.

The Arrival of Missives is a novella set in a small rural village in post-WW1 England, where Shirley is a girl on the cusp of adulthood. Even though the main characters are youngsters, this is not a children's or YA story. I'm sure young people can read and enjoy it, but it's written for a mature audience, with some mature themes.

Shirley is madly in love with the local teacher, a man whose wounds in battl
Aug 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018
Is there such a thing as science fiction magic realism? Is there a better word for it? This is so entirely its own thing that I feel like I need a term to grasp it.

Uncanny and strange, this was a terrifying story with an amazing protagonist and such a strong, original voice. The style was lyrical and beautiful, and instantly bowled me over; and then the story turned and refused to take a predictable shape. I loved it. Highly recommended.
Verity Holloway
May 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I was so intrigued by this. Kept me guessing right up to the end. I loved the defiance of genre constraints and the refreshing voice of Shirley, who manages to be smart and mature as well as terribly naive. As for the central motif - that's an image you won't forget quickly.
May 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
Originally posted here.

This is a really short and strange story. This is the second book by Aliya Whiteley that I have read, the first being The Beauty, which was so weird I had mixed feelings about it. However, I really love Aliya Whiteley's writing style and had heard good things about The Arrival of Missives.

The story is about Shirley, a young girl in a country village just after World War 1, and she has a crush on one of her teachers who has come back from the war scarred and disfigured. Roc
Jose Cruz
Aug 15, 2016 rated it liked it
Reading weird and dark fiction at the rate that I normally do can sometimes inspire a kind of tunnel vision. While stories may differ greatly in subject matter, setting, or voice, the one element that has always remained the same in my experience is tone. Each story, no matter how diverse the prose, generally fluctuates between inspiring feelings of terror or awe. To put it another way, my resulting state of mind come the story’s end is generally the same. Weird is the weird fiction that doesn’t ...more
May 21, 2016 rated it really liked it

The nitty-gritty: Sexism and feminism collide in a strange but likable tale about a grim message from the future and the young woman who is determined to try to make things right.

It is beyond me to be calm, even though this is a ridiculous piece of whimsy that I did not care for just a mere week ago. But no. No, I cannot call if whimsy, now I am at the heart of it. There are deep roots to May Day, stretching back through the centuries. I find I have a taste for power in all its forms, on the r

Seregil of Rhiminee
Jun 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Originally published at Risingshadow.

Aliya Whiteley's novella, The Arrival of Missives, is a delicate, intelligent and thought-provoking story filled with beautiful and insightful prose. It's a captivating account of a young woman's life and choices in rural England after the Great War.

When I began to read this novella, I found myself deeply impressed by its freshness and uniqueness, because it was refreshingly different kind of speculative fiction. I consider it to be an excellent novella for r
I think this one is going to haunt me for a while
Stephanie Jane (Literary Flits)
I received a copy of Arrival Of Missives by Aliya Whiteley from its publishers, Unsung Stories, via Contemporary Small Press, in exchange for my honest review. The book is due to be published today (9th May 2016).

Arrival Of Missives is set in a small village in the years following the First World War. The community is very traditional with the same families having worked the land for generations, and men and women keeping to their strictly defined roles. We meet our narrator, Shirley Fearn, when
Jackie Law
May 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing
The Arrival of Missives, by Aliya Whiteley, is set in a small West of England village in the aftermath of the Great War. The families of the village have lived here for generations, each taking an interest in their neighbours’ lives and playing the role expected of them in occupation and village life.

The protagoinist, Shirley Fearn, is the only child of an increasingly successful, landowning farmer. She has been raised to be of interest to someone who would be willing and able to take over the f
Shaz Goodwin
Apr 24, 2016 rated it really liked it

17 year old Shirley is the daughter of a landowner and her plans differ to that of her father. Life was changing after WW1 but it was still a patriarchal society and Shirley is a strong character who has no fear in challenging the old ways. She's partly estranged from her mother due to their divergent paths but there is one emotive moment which reminded me not to take everything at face value!

24 year old Mr Tiller has survived the war but his experiences
Andy Weston
Oct 11, 2016 rated it really liked it
This is a strange, unique and quite enjoyable novella set in the time just after the Great War in a small English village.

It is narrated by Shirley, just in her last few weeks at the small village school. She has a crush on her young teacher, 24 year old Mr Tiller who has recently returned from the war badly injured. Perhaps though also he has post traumatic stress. As Shirley tries to get close to him, and as she considers what to do after school, the village is preparing for its May Day festi
Alice Lippart
Jun 23, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2016
A beautifully told story, quite strange and out there, but excellently crafted. If you like weird things, this is for you!
Oct 22, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017, scribd
This was a strange little novella. I don't know where I heard of it now, but I found it on my Kindle wish list. Then I saw it was on Scribd, so I read it there.

An idealistic young woman is in love with her teacher. She wants to break free of her village, get trained as a teacher, and marry the existing teacher and teach by his side. But there are Complications. The teacher was wounded in the war (WWI) in some strange, initially unspecified way. The young woman also has feelings for one of her pe
Stephen Curran
Feb 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Open THE ARRIVAL OF MISSIVES at a random page and you would be forgiven for believing it is a straightforward coming of age drama set between the World Wars. Shirley Fearn, a 17 year old living in rural England, is torn between her private ambitions and the expectations of her community: between her wish to move to Taunton and train as a teacher and her father’s assumption that she will settle down in the role of a farmer’s wife. To complicate matters, she in love with her older, war-wounded tea ...more
Jaffa Kintigh
A surprising mash-up, this tale's first person POV is firmly set just post WWI in rural England--so rural that electricity and the trains haven't made it there yet. Then, through a secondary character sci-fi tinges the story as a controlled glimpse of the far future--post-apocalyptic and off-Earth far into the future. Whiteley has a way of making things work that shouldn't as seen in her 2015 novella The Beauty.

Shirley Fearn narrates the happenings [and exchange of missives] during her last year
Feb 03, 2018 rated it it was ok
This started out on track for a five star read, and then suddenly the characterization of nearly every person in this did a random, complete 180 about halfway through and it just...quickly went downhill from there. I know it's short but it was way too rushed. It's too bad because the premise was fantastic, but the execution was...not.
Bonnie McDaniel
Jan 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I've read some good novellas lately, but this one is, in a word, fantastic.

It is very British though. That is, the prose is lovely and precise and languid, and the narrative is slow and restrained, until that moment, not too far along (at least that's what happened to me) when you realize you've been thoroughly pulled in, and you can't put the book down.

This is a story of fate, and power, and a heroine who realizes, as stated in the book's final paragraphs:

His presence gives me an optimism I h
Dan Coxon
May 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I only picked this up because I happened to go along to the launch event, but I'm glad I did. Weird, moving and utterly compelling, it's my favourite new 'discovery' of the year so far. Very short - more of a novella than a novel - it's a curious blend of 1920's romance, science fiction and philosophical rumination. Most important, though, is the stark but beautifully balanced prose, reason alone to read it as far as I'm concerned. Highly recommended for anyone who likes their fiction short and ...more
Jul 17, 2017 rated it liked it
I'm undecided about this novella. On one hand it's beautifully written and full of brilliant bits, on the other hand the central premise is a bit... coarse, even if it's emulating old-fashion science fiction.
Mar 11, 2016 rated it really liked it
If you're a fan of Vonnegut you'll love this. An amazing novel, full of depth, meaning, and charm.

Full review to follow as part of promotional tour.
Aug 09, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: british, fiction
Short, strange and very charming, this is an enjoyable little oddity.
May 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017-reads
“There are deep roots to May Day, stretching back through the centuries. I find I have a taste for power in all its forms, […] and what is more powerful than a Queen?” (p.76)

This is the second novella by Aliya Whiteley that I’ve read this year. The first one was her stunning story The Beauty (2014) which left me in awe of its invention, its beautiful prose, and its genuine strangeness. The Arrival of Missives is not quite as strange as The Beauty, but it is equally as fascinating once it draws y
Andrew Wallace
Nov 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
‘The Beauty’, Aliyah Whiteley’s previous novella with Unsung Stories, is one of my favourite novellas of the last few years, delivering as much story in the shorter form than some novels manage in four times the length. ‘The Arrival of Missives’ is similarly rich in narrative, although is so different in style and tone as to seem at first to be the work of a different author entirely.
Instead of a creepily insidious post-apocalyptic tale of unexpected redemption amid one of the most persuasively
Kate (Looking Glass Reads)
Aliya Whiteley’s The Arrival of Missives is a historical fantasy novella that is absolutely not to be missed. The prose has lyrical beauty that sweeps the reader along and weaves a truly unforgettable story.

The tale begins in a small village at the end of World War I. Shirley is nineteen, at the end of her schooling, and dreams of more than the preset plan expected of her. She isn’t interested in marrying a boy from town who will take over her father’s farm one day. Shirley has her eye on going
Gregg Narber
Mar 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
I can't remember how this came to my attention and I had no idea what it was going to be until I read it. Initially, it seemed to be about a young woman in rural Somerset England falling in love (with her teacher, a wounded WWI vet) and simultaneously discovering dreams beyond the isolated Somerset village where her family and generations of other families live patterned lives. WWI has changed everything and promises to change more (electricity is expected!). There is, however, much more going o ...more
Shall I Download A Black Hole And Offer It To You
brilliant! Whiteley has a gift for pulling the reader into a tale with seemingly little effort... such an odd story, as it starts in one direction and moves sinuously to touch on several issues of importance to our present time... a bit of a science fiction bent, but not too smarty-like, which fits the overall narrative wonderfully... how Whiteley gets so much feeling and thought into such a short book is beyond me... exhibits powerful talents and a deep understanding of the world...
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