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The Plankton Collector

4.50  ·  Rating details ·  16 ratings  ·  9 reviews
A family already struggling is flung headlong apart from each other in grief....

In this atmospheric novella, the mysterious Plankton Collector visits members of a family torn apart by grief and regret. He comes in different guises. For ten-year old Mary, he is Mr Smith who takes her on a train journey to the seaside. Her mother, Rose, meets him as Stephen, by her son's gra
Paperback, 84 pages
Published September 26th 2018 by New Welsh Rarebyte
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Jackie Law
Sep 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
“That picture […] will be amongst the snaps which she keeps all her life in the old chocolate box, the captured iconic moments of seaside holidays, made happy by a trick of memory”

The Plankton Collector, by Cath Barton, tells the story of a family struggling to cope in the wake of a death. Rose and David live in comfortable surroundings with their three children but their marriage is not a happy one. Each believes that, over the years, they have given the other what was expected and required, ye
Dec 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This unusual and skillfully crafted tale is filled with sublime descriptive language that has left lasting images in my mind. There are a couple of themes that cleverly link the different parts of the story. The ending will get you thinking!
Jan Kaneen
Oct 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I absolutely loved this strange and lyrical tale of how a family grow apart, suffer loss, then start the recovery process together with a gentle helping hand from the mysterious plankton collector. This shape-shifting literary presence is lightly described so it becomes entirely believable. The narrative voice that does so haunts the story, like a calm, all-seeing inner voice that guides the reader all the way, showing us what to see and hear, navigating our path so we focus on what it wants us ...more
Heidi J.
Dec 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I had been meaning to read this novella, which won the New Welsh Writing Award in 2017, and I kept putting it off because it’s about grief, and it would be late, before bed, and that sounded depressing, but the book is anything but. From the very first sentence, it’s like being able to crawl into the lap of your grandmother or grandfather in a rocking chair. There’s a flow to the language which is like breathing in and out, or rocking gently in a boat, and then the characters are drawn with such ...more
Debbie O'Neill
Oct 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
An unusual title draws the reader in to discover the connections between a very English version of Clarence in ‘It’s A Wonderful Life’ and a family emotionally scattered by grief. Cath Barton effortlessly creates a heady mixture of mid-century real world and magical realism. Her poetic prose evokes a bygone time, which none but the very old can have experienced, but leaves us with the feeling that we absolutely remember those days. The story takes place over a few months and deals with themes of ...more
Bronwen Griffiths
Oct 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
A beautifully written novella about loss and grief. At times it has an almost child-like innocence to it but a thread of darker, more adult themes also runs through it.
Jan 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: novella
Winner of a New Welsh Writing Award for 2017 in the novella category, The Plankton Collector is one of those dreamlike pieces that at odd moments rises unbidden to the surface of this reader's thoughts like a bubble from unknown depths. To describe it as magic realism is not the whole story, yet the narrative does in fact drift like a leaf on a pond from one magical moment to another before catching on the rocks of reality, the reality of authentic lives lived with pain and sorrow and maybe, ult ...more
Sheila Rawlings
Feb 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
As with most novellas, ‘The Plankton Collector’ has a small cast of characters and a simple plot – in this case the reconciliation of a family torn apart by the death of a child.

When the eldest child, Edgar, becomes sick and dies, his family begins to disintegrate. The parents, who have been gradually drifting apart for several years, find it hard to face the tragedy together and so suffer their grief individually.

The mother, Rose, retreats into herself, choosing to ignore her husband’s lengthe
Nancy Stohlman
Dec 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Cath Barton’s award-winning novella, The Plankton Collector, is a modern-day parable, an allegory for a defeated world. The Plankton Collector is that archetype from dreams and fairytales: a hero in disguise who arrives just as one family is on the ledge of their grief. This slim book gives you hope for humanity and lets you remember that angels are among us, watching, and, every so often–stepping in.
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