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Mothers: Stories

3.75  ·  Rating details ·  166 ratings  ·  47 reviews
An “extraordinary” (The Sunday Times) debut of unnerving beauty, Chris Power’s short story collection Mothers evokes the magic and despair of the essential human longing for purpose.

Chris Power’s stories are peopled by men and women who find themselves at crossroads or dead ends—characters who search without knowing what they seek. Their paths lead them to thresholds, brid
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published January 15th 2019 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (first published February 27th 2018)
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3.75  · 
Rating details
 ·  166 ratings  ·  47 reviews

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Mar 10, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: short-stories
Read it for the vine cover.

Mothers-- bookspoils
Chris Power's stories are peopled by men and women who find themselves at crossroads or dead ends - at ancient Swedish burial sites, river crossings on Exmoor, and raucous Mexican weddings. A stand-up with writer's block embarks upon his last gig. Reflecting on a childhood holiday, a father is faced with the limit to which he can keep his daughters safe. These characters search without knowing what they seek.

Unfortunately, Mothers turned out to be just another book ad
I read this book during a work trip in a fug of anxiety, so I couldn't remember as much as I'd have liked about it and had to skim back over the stories to remind myself of their plots and themes. The sentences I highlighted on first read are all about atmosphere or weather, describing air that's greasy with the coming storm or feels like a substance; it gathered itself in buzzing shapes, but what strikes me when revisiting them is Power's skill in evoking vulnerability and uncertainty, the numb ...more
Read By RodKelly
Feb 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: books-owned
Mothers is an incredibly cohesive collection of stories which focus on loneliness and remembrance, often concerned with characters who find themselves in circumstances that so deeply envelope them that they cannot escape the consequences of their actions or the actions of those around them.

There is much reflection on past events: a sour love affair, a traumatic childhood event, a mother's early and unexpected death. These memories of the past seamlessly weave themselves into the crumbling substa
Julie Parks
Dec 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: short-stories
I know people use the word REFRESHING a lot when talking about books, but this really does feel like a long-awaited fresh breath in the literary world of short fiction.


There's so much sincerity and truth in each of these stories, and they're NOT all about mothers necessarily. At first, I'd expected some sort of netmoms split into 2000 word limits, but it's nothing like it.

These stories are adventurous, heartfelt and so SO lovable. They will kick your lack of inspiration o
One brilliant story (The Crossing), some good ones (Mothers 2 & 3) and some average ones - although all really well written, so on balance three stars seemed fair.
Mar 13, 2019 rated it it was ok
Kind of a weird read. When it was good, it was good, but when it was bad, it was really, really bad. There was a little something missing even from the good stories, some sort of disconnection between me and the writer. I'm really not sure what it was. Granted, the subject matter of isolation, wandering with no destination, and growing uneasiness is uncomfortable by default, but this was too uncomfortable for me, if that makes any sense.

I liked "The Crossing", "The Haväng Dolmen", "Portals", and
Jonathan Pool
This is a very strong collection of short stories, and a collection which works beautifully as a coherent whole. The European setting for the stories did remind me of David Szalay’s All That Man Is, and that was a collection that qualified for the 2016 Booker shortlist, on the basis of the linkage of the stories. Stockholm, Greece, Spain, Paris all feature in Mothers.
The structure of the book has been carefully thought out and crafted. Summer 1976, Innsbruck and Eva are first, last and middle of
Whilst I really enjoyed Power's writing in Mothers, and felt that many of her characters were realistic - particularly Eva, on whom three stories focus - there were a couple of tales here which did not capture my attention. Overall, Power tells of ordinary, mundane occurrences, but somehow manages to make them compelling. I really enjoyed the links to Sweden which many of the stories have, and I know a couple of them are going to stick with me for a long time to come. As it was rather a mixed co ...more
This is one of the many books I picked up at the Faber Spring Party. I ended up reading the first three stories and skimming the remainder of the book. Of the 10 stories, the first, a middle one, and the last are about Eva, so this is in part a linked collection. In “Mother 1: Summer 1976,” Eva is a child in the Stockholm suburbs in that legendarily hot summer, living with her mother and a stepfather figure, and makes a false accusation against a neighbor boy based on a misunderstanding. I enjoy ...more
Jul 17, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: short-stories
My cup of tea. Stories of disconnect, of trying but failing to find a way forward, superbly written and sharp as knives, yet mapping out a troubled, indistinct territory - depression, an inability to protect loved ones, an inability to love. There are three connected stories (Mothers 1-3) following a woman's life from childhood and her relationship with her mother to becoming a mother herself, and running away from the task. There is much dodging of responsibility, or attempted escapes from life ...more
Paris (parisperusing)
Dec 03, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Lovers of scenic, lyrical prose
Shelves: 2019, arc
Getting through this book was not easy. While I flipped through the first third of it in a single sitting when I started, my interest waned and I ended up putting this book down for days on end until I forced myself through the longest Sunday of my life. Power's debut is filled with lush imagery, however, that lushness quickly fades to boredom.

As someone who likes character growth, I felt that aspect was inundated with useless details — entire paragraphs to scenery, or some banal activity that
Jun 11, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: couldn-t-finish
Banal Realism.
Jan 07, 2019 rated it liked it
Mothers is a solid short-story collection debut from Chris Power. Power a skilled writer when it comes to taking on various personalities/perspectives. The characters in the stories felt natural, never forced. The stories in this collection are engrossing, even anxiety-inducing at times, however there was not a standout story. I think this collection will stay with me as a whole, rather than remembering individual pieces.
Jon Doyle
"The characters of Chris Power attempt to use stories as an antidote to loneliness, but that’s not to say every effort is redemptive or magically healing. Indeed, sometimes it is actively counterproductive, the stories growing into new, deeper sources of loneliness that grip a soul and refuse to let go. Fiction, it turns out, is not some therapeutic balm. Rather, it is something that can help and hinder, soothe and scorch, and in doing so, be as nuanced and complicated as life itself."

Full revie
May 12, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Oct 03, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
someone i barely know told me she really liked this book, but that she is a short story fan in general, and although i had no reason to trust her in particular, nor do i really trust Short Story Fans in general (arbitrary? maybe!), when i had the opportunity to acquire this book i took it. (also i thought it would be funny to read another work of contemporary fiction putatively featuring motherhood—yes, yes i am about to begin reading sheila heti's motherhood now.)

someone else who i am getting
Tadhg Coakley
Impressive debut from a writer who clearly knows the short story form.

The book revolves around a cycle of three short stories (Mother 1, 2 and 3) about Eva, a troubled Swedish woman. Mother 1 is from her point of view as a child and her view of her own mother. Mother 2 as a young woman travelling and Mother 3 as an older woman and mother. I don't to give away too much plot but these work really well as linked stories and are the strongest element of the book.

The other stories have strengths to
Robert Reinhard
Some of the public praise and comparison to masters of the form heaped on this competent story collection seem overdone but there are some virtues. [ someone compared him to Alice Munro? no way} The three tales of Eva at beginning middle and end of the list maybe constitute a disassembled novella together, ending on the last page with a Viconian ricorso to the beginning for the book as a whole and the other thematic links among the stories. The biblical name association must be intentional. I do ...more
Dec 18, 2018 rated it liked it
The short stories in Chris Power’s collection, Mothers, range across the world, from Sweden to Mexico. Though the settings are varied, many of the stories revolve around two themes: betrayal and unacknowledged traumas from the past. None of them are comfortable to read; some are even a bit frustrating. That said, all of them are interesting portraits of characters who don’t know what they want, who can’t have what they want, or who have to deal with characters like the other two types...

Read the
Feb 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
Really I’d rate this 3.5 stars but I’ve rounded up because the writing is beautiful. This collection of 10 short stories is beautifully written but the stories aren’t compelling to me, mostly because the characters aren’t fully developed. The author creates a sense of place, places I’d like to be, on vacation walking unfamiliar streets and trails and eating simple but wholesome and flavorful foods. But these detailed descriptions aren’t extended to the characters. The stories each focus on memor ...more
Eimear McHugh
While I enjoyed the author’s style of writing, I do feel that the actual quality of the stories was lacking, with the three Eva-centric stories being the only stand outs. I also found it quite... obvious... that it was a male author writing the descriptions of sex in the female-narrated stories. Although perhaps the boring and lacklustre male satisfaction focused descriptions were intentional and just went over my head.

It was fine. A quick and easy read. Will I pick it up to read again, or reco
Barbara M
Feb 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
A well written collection of short stories. Three of the stories are about the character, Eva, a mother who suffers from mental illness. Eva is an intriguing and mysterious character. The stories about Eva were among my favorites in the collection. I wanted to read more about Eva!

I also enjoyed "Above the Wedding" about the hidden relationships between characters attending a wedding and "Crossing" about a couple hiking in the woods and the risks they are willing to take.

I enjoyed reading this co
Jen Bober
Jan 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
I thoroughly enjoyed this collection of short stories. I found the writing to be captivating and interesting. Each story had characters that were flawed, real and going through different journeys to find themselves or their purpose in life. I thought it was very clever to have the 3 stories that revolved around Eva. (Mother 1, Mother 2 and Mother 3), As I am not normally a short story reader I found I still was invested in each story and the characters.
Sep 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Beautifully understated, emotionally charged stories full of memory and feeling. The Eva stories are incredible, but almost every piece is. A really cohesive and incredibly well-written collection that wears its preoccupations with time, family and the unreliability and murkiness of feeling on its well-designed sleeve. My favourite story is the one set at the wedding, but they are all worth a read.
Feb 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
I received an ARC from NetGalley for an honest review in return.

I loved this book. For short stories, the characters were very interesting and well developed. The writing was very refined and the story line just flows. I liked all the stories, but the three with Eva were the most notable for me.
I don't usually like short stories, so I hope for those of you who are not into short stories will give this book a chance.
Natalie Gardner
Jan 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
Another set of short stories which I LOVED! I devoured it and it really reminded me of the first sets of short stories I read by Roald Dahl (for adults) with their noir humour. The characters were all intensely fascinating, disturbing and multilayered.
As with many of these types of book, there were a couple which didn't quite grab me the way the others had, but overall the book is brilliant and I would recommend to any fans of short stories or anyone interested in reading some.
Jan 07, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Mothers is a volume of 10 short stories, three of which follow the same character, Eva from childhood to old age from different viewpoints. It's a structure that gives the whole book an extra dimension both to the stories themselves and the gaps between the stories, the untold moments which seem charged with a vague tragedy.

There are no trite endings or explanations here, but a sense of awful significance in the smallest decisions.
Somewhat cohesive collection of short stories. There is one character, Eva, who appears in three of them. Tales of loneliness, mixed in with travel, left me feeling sitting with an uncomfortable feeling as I read. Still not quite sure if I really liked this one or not. Some of the stories didn’t seem to be very much in line with the overall theme, or were forgettable, which took away from the larger collection.
Feb 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The one good thing about having the flu is that I had enough time to read this extraordinary collection cover to cover in one go. I’ve never read anything quite like it: it’s evasive, elliptical, slippery and yet so honest it’s almost painful, like someone gently, forcefully pressing on a bruise. Please read this, friends, so we can discuss it!
Jan 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
A MUCH better read than my first book of the year and whatever titbits of information about places or history were beautifully and seamlessly included in the stories. Most were pretty sad though so I will need an upbeat book to follow. I like the way Power writes - and how he was able to put himself into someone else's shoes and the some of the things he contemplates set me thinking too.
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