The Breathing by Mary-Ann Constantine

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The Breathing by Mary-Ann Constantine

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Category: Short Stories
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Ekaterina Rodyunina
Reviewed by Ekaterina Rodyunina
Summary: A collection of delicate and thought-through short stories, fuelled with love for Wales and wry melancholy. The book is not about getting the meaning of every story right, but more about getting the feel and the atmosphere of it. A pleasant read by the fire with a cup of tea, however definitely not a quick read.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Yes
Pages: 104 Date: November 2008
Publisher: Planet Books
ISBN: 978-0954088187

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Mary-Ann Constantine's book is a bit like a piece of embroidery: painstakingly slow, sewn with different threads, but the result is a beautiful picture by an accomplished hand. It is a book of short stories, very different and quite ambiguous, describing the lives of people - and an elephant - of a certain location (or a few) in Wales.

Each story unveils as if with with a certain degree of difficulty: we do not immediately know or guess why one woman is afraid of planes and another uses most unusual plants for her loom, why the two loving souls only meet at the library, and why indeed an old man in a care home keeps bread crumbs in his pocket. We do not immediately know because we do not have to: we need to see the tiny details shaping their worlds to understand that. Once we do, we might get the feel of what it's like to live their lives, and perhaps that is the ultimate goal the author was after - to let us feel it as if it was our own, for a little while.

The stories do not always make sense - perhaps only to me - but they are intriguing and profound nevertheless. They make one wonder how those people got to that point in their lives... and should it be something to worry about for us.

The book has a feminine feel to it, but I believe men will find it interesting as well. In fact, I would recommend it to anyone with a free evening on their hands: perhaps not all the stories will ring true, but at least one will strike a chord.

It is by no means a page turner, it is all questions and no answers, not bright and chirpy or life-affirming at first sight, but it is not depressing at all, rather with a certain philosophic melancholic touch.

I would like to thank Planet publishers for sending this book to The Bookbag.

If you cannot get enough of short stories, check out Jeffrey Eugenides' selection of the best love stories, from Chekhov to Munro.

Buy The Breathing by Mary-Ann Constantine at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Breathing by Mary-Ann Constantine at

Buy The Breathing by Mary-Ann Constantine at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Breathing by Mary-Ann Constantine at


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