Today’s team review is from Robbie, she blogs here https://robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com/
Robbie has been reading Donkey Boy and other stories by Mary Smith
Mary Smith’s collection of short stories are a real treat. Each story deals with a complex set of circumstances that invoke a strong emotional reaction from the main character. Each character is well depicted and their reactions to the situations in which they find themselves provide a lot of food for thought for the reader. I found myself dwelling on each story and reflecting on how I thought I would react in a similar situation.
My three favourite stories in this collection are as follows:
Donkey Boy, an intriguing tale about a young boy, living in very poor circumstances, who is condemned to a life of hard physical work and poverty due to his father’s decision to end his formal education and have his son work for him in his small timber mill. The boy is resentful of his perceived harsh treatment at the hands of his father as well as his father’s decision to take him out of school. The boy performs a service for a wealthy foreigner and she tips him generally. The boy now needs to decide what to do with this unexpected money.
Asylum Seekers, a very interesting story that is told in the style of a conversation in which the speaker debates the issue of asylum seekers. The speaker’s thought process is erratic and sprinkled with bigotry and her thoughts go round and round about her perception of the intentions and attitudes of the asylum seekers and their impact on her world. I found it fascinating to read the confusion of the speaker’s thoughts and her almost contradictory ideas. I thought this story was the most thought provoking and realistic presentation of this sensitive topic I have ever read.
Miss Biffin leaves the Circus provides a peek into the life of a person who is severely physically disabled and her life as an entertainer in a circus. Miss Biffin is treated as a freak by her cruel employer who is actually her jailor. Miss Biffin shows a lot of spirit in standing up to him and fighting for a better life. Opportunity suddenly presents itself in the form of a young man looking for employment at the circus. Will Miss Biffin be able to take advantage of this unexpected turn of events or will her captor prevail?
My rating for this book is five out of five stars.
Shot through with flashes of humour the stories here will entertain, amuse, and make you think. Mary Smith’s debut collection of short stories is a real treat, introducing the reader to a diverse range of characters in a wide range of locations. A donkey boy in Pakistan dreams of buying luxuries for his mother; a mouth artist in rural Scotland longs to leave the circus; a visually impaired man has a problem with his socks; and a woman tries to come to terms with a frightening gift – or curse.
Mary Smith has always loved writing. As a child she wrote stories in homemade books made from wallpaper trimmings – but she never thought people could grow up and become real writers. She spent a year working in a bank, which she hated – all numbers, very few words – ten years with Oxfam in the UK, followed by ten years working in Pakistan and Afghanistan. She wanted others to share her amazing, life-changing experiences so she wrote about them – fiction, non-fiction, poetry and journalism. And she discovered the little girl who wrote stories had become a real writer after all.
Drunk Chickens and Burnt Macaroni: Real Stories of Afghan Women is an account of her time in Afghanistan and her debut novel No More Mulberries is also set in Afghanistan.