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Multitudes

4.28  ·  Rating details ·  310 ratings  ·  42 reviews
From Belfast to London and back again the eleven stories that comprise Caldwell's first collection explore the many facets of growing up - the pain and the heartache, the tenderness and the joy, the fleeting and the formative - or 'the drunkenness of things being various'. Stories of longing and belonging, they culminate with the heart-wrenching and unforgettable title ...more
Paperback, 192 pages
Published May 5th 2016 by Faber & Faber
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Average rating 4.28  · 
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Barbara
The 11 stories in this collection were written over several years. What is surprising is that they form such a coherent series. Caldwell is a young (born 1981), Belfast-born writer. All of these stories are set in Belfast, specifically in East Belfast. East Belfast is staunchly Protestant, in this city which continues to be segregated by religion. Younger residents shun sectarianism, but housing patterns, bitter histories, and old habits don't change quickly. East Belfast gave us C.S. Lewis and ...more
Erica Mangin
Jun 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing
What a short story collection! Lucy Caldwell has a way with words - the beautifully written stories evoke with each one the exact emotion I imagine she is trying to get from the reader: the awkwardness; the excitement; the guilt; the fear. Reading this collection, was for me, like eating a packet of chocolate biscuits, you devour one, but then convince your self that you'll have just one more, and then suddenly when you look up you've devoured the whole lot. You may have the slight guilt ...more
Ylenia
Jul 10, 2016 rated it liked it
Faves: Multitudes, Killing Time, Poison.
Kirsty
Jul 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have wanted to read Lucy Caldwell's work for such a long time, and decided to start with her short story collection entitledMultitudes. It has been praised by reviewers and critics alike since its publication in 2016. Eimear McBride comments that these tales are 'beautifully crafted, and so finely balanced that she holds the reader right up against the tender humanity of her characters.' The Scotsmanremarks that the collection 'feels like a truly unified work of art.' Caldwell has won numerous ...more
Paula Dennan
Aug 31, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A gorgeous collection of short stories set in Belfast about growing up, falling in love, queerness, motherhood and figuring out who you are. Caldwell’s writing is evocative and full of nuance.

Stand out stories – Poison, Through the Wardrobe and Here We Are.
Rebecca
I read the first two stories (37 pages), “The Ally Ally O” and “Thirteen.” I enjoyed the short opener, which describes a desultory ride in the car with mother and sisters with second-person narration and no speech marks. I should have given up on “Thirteen,” though, a tired story of a young teen missing her best friend, who moved from Northern Ireland to London. She tries drinking, boys and parties, but her heart’s not really in it. I couldn’t face any more stories of troubled adolescence (so ...more
Regan
Feb 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
After reading Eimear McBride and now Lucy Caldwell's collection of interwoven short stories Multitudes, I feel quite affirmed in my belief that there is something in the water Irish women writers drink that enables them to capture the thrum and buzz of adolescence with such clarity.
Alison Hardtmann
There's little less satisfying than a short story that doesn't get it quite right. And it's a hard medium to master; every element that a novel allows chapters to communicate, must be evident in a handful of paragraphs. Fully rounded characters must spring from a half dozen lines and the theme and plot must be pared down until each sentence serves a specific purpose. But when a short story works, it's like a shot of whiskey or a kick in the head, everything is there, all at once.

Lucy Caldwell's
...more
Allan
Aug 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this short story collection, which I had actually bought at its launch but hadn't read until now, without being blown away by it. Caldwell, as far as I know, doesn't live in Belfast anymore, and a few of the stories were so chock full of references, both physical and cultural, that it began to feel that she was trying too hard to show her local 'cred'. Just a personal gripe. Saying that, these were seven issue driven stories which represented a very different side to the city than one ...more
Kasa Cotugno
Another great book of the month from the Irish Times. This collection focuses primarily on young women in contemporary Belfast, all with varying degrees of difficulty that are immediately recognizable, situations that are as prevalent globally thanks to the presence of the Internet. The Good Son presented life in Belfast as experienced possibly by the previous generation, during the Troubles. These young people are facing life challenges without the overt violence in the streets of that earlier ...more
Ashley
Jan 02, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: british-read
Ah, what a great trip! Through its pages this refreshing short story collection transported – or rather teleported – me to Northern Ireland. My favourite short story in this collection was the phenomenal title story ‘Multitudes’ ...more
ElenaSquareEyes
A collection of eleven short stories of childhood, adolescence and motherhood.

I’ve read a few short story collections for my Read the World Project (I find them to be a good way to gain an insight into a writer’s country and its people, and they’re also usual a quick read) but I’ve never had as much of a visceral reaction to a short story collection as I did with Lucy Caldwell’s Multitudes.

Each story ranges from 10 – 25 pages, some are in second person but most of them are in first person, and
...more
Christine Clark
Jul 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Brilliant, just brilliant. Maybe it's because she writes about the East Belfast and West London that I know so very well. Or the capturing of the Elusive Northern Irish spirit so perfectly, The writing is just so damn good that I feel like I know and walk through the stories with the characters, and will be still thinking about them for a long time to come. Beautiful
Ruth
Oct 17, 2016 rated it liked it
This collection of shorts starts with a story written in the second person - my heart sank. I can't stand an author saying 'you did this and you did that' - it drives me mad. Anyway, it gets better. I think Lucy Caldwell writes really well from a teenage perspective and these were my favourites. I especially liked 'Thirteen' and 'Poison', though they brought a dreadful feeling of recognition (how awful to be young!).
Jackie Law
May 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Multitudes, by Lucy Caldwell, is a collection of eleven short stories set in Belfast. As a native of the city and a fan of the short story form I approached this book with high expectations. I was not disappointed.

Several of the stories are told from the point of view of a child and the author has captured both the voice and the conflict of feelings at each age perfectly. It is easy to forget how torrid growing up can be: the desperate loneliness, being unable to articulate feelings, the fear of
...more
Anne
May 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I read quite a few short story collections, but very few make it on to Random Things, for various reasons. I've often found that short stories have left me feeling unfulfilled as a reader, that I've not really understood what the author is trying to say. Sometimes a collection will feature one or two excellent stories whilst the others feel like they've been added as an afterthought, or to pad out the book.

I have had none of these feelings whilst reading, or after I've finished Multitudes. This
...more
MisterHobgoblin
Nov 29, 2016 rated it really liked it
Multitudes is a rather superior story collection set mostly in East Belfast.

For those who don’t know it, Northern Ireland is a rather conservative place with a high degree of social compliance. It tends not to deal well with diversity. Just to exemplify this, it is a place where the weekend TV continuity announcer in the 1990s, Julian Simmonds, was an unmarried man in late middle age, with bleached blond hair, a range of pastel coloured jackets, a camp accent and a day job working for an
...more
Rebecca Green
Feb 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
Something I was not expecting when I started this book, was to identify with it as much as I did. At points I felt as though I could be the narrator, it struck me so closely, reminding me of those painful feelings in adolescence that I thought I had forgotten. I actually felt uncomfortable reading some of the stories, to the extent that I couldn't finish Poison at all, for reasons I'm not even sure I can explain to myself. Despite these negative feelings, I really enjoyed the book and the ...more
Lauren
Feb 19, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A beautifully put together collection by Lucy Caldwell - the stories all take place in E Belfast and most are about girls - young or on the verge of adolescence and all the trials and tribulations therein. There are a few missteps but some real stunners too. I loved the sense of place, the Van Morrison references - very subtle but there, and the way the Troubles were implicit but not overt. A childs-eye view without a lick of twee-ness. I'm off to find everything else by her!

Thanks to the
...more
Beth Withers
Feb 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Caldwell gives us a series of short stories that deal with many different aspects of life today, including many happenings that will make the reader think. Each story has its own voice, which shows the mastery of the author's craft. The settings would appear to be Northern Ireland, which shows that the issues tackled in these stories are universal. If you enjoy modern literature and short stories, this is a must-read.

**I was given a free copy of this book through LibraryThing's Early Reviewers
...more
Rezky Ramadhani
Mar 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book gives you many perspectives and lessons about particular moment in life. Consist of 11 short stories, start with a child character, teenager, adult and end with a mother character. All of the stories are beautifully written and somehow (seems) very real. You can sense the real portrayal of people's life from its precise description of emotions, places and the use of second person narrative (in several stories). My favorite stories are Through the Wardrobe, Poison and Thirteen which all ...more
Iona
Jun 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I went to the same school as Lucy at the same time, so found this book very nostalgic, especially sneaking off to the minimarket! Princes opening sports halls, French classes in the mobiles and everything about 'Poison' definitely took me back. Superb stories really capturing what it was like growing up in Northern Ireland in the 80s, best book I've read in a long time.
Jiali
May 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: best, short-stories, 2019
The books writes about moments that we think about, the fleeting but memorable ones. Lucy Caldwell's writing "demands emphathy" and it's so true. It's gonna stay at the top of my short stories books.

Favourites: Through the wardrobe, Inextinguishable, Multitudes, Poison
Jen
Jan 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
So simple and so effective.
Lucy Williams
Jan 07, 2020 rated it really liked it
Made me cry and laugh. Bit more fongering than expected but made me love belfast even more. The latter stories were my favourites.
Kayla
Sep 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-in-2019
That last story got me right in the feels.
Vivian Valvano
Aug 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A stunning debut collection of stories from a Belfast writer of prodigious talent. Girls/women portrayed with such sensitivity and understanding. Poignant. Lives that are not easy.
Erin Brice
Mar 09, 2017 rated it liked it
I'm kind of on the fence about this book. They were decent enough stories, but I don't think they'll stay with me once I close the book...
Fany Renjana
Mar 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
I skimmed but I liked 'Through the Wardrobe' story.
Sheng
Aug 26, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: library
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