About love, loss, partings and freedom. About yearning for a connection with another person but sometimes recognising it is better to walk away. Separated from the Sea by Amanda Huggins is a collection of poignant stories that cannot fail to touch you. Some of the stories spoke to me personally because of the Yorkshire settings, but locations range from Japan to America and Europe. Huggins has mastered the form; just enough detail, just enough emotion to pull you in and a well-disguised twist at the end.
I have chosen three stories to focus on. In ‘Whatever Speed She Dared’ a woman drives on an empty motorway across the Pennines in the dark of night. She is tempted by what lies ahead, a new future. But an encounter with a skittish rabbit gives her pause for thought.
In ‘Sea Glass’ two children walk on the beach. Alife tells Cathy that pieces of blue sea glass are the souls of fishermen lost at sea. Another two pieces, he says, are the eyes of ships’ cats swept overboard. ‘If you match a pair of eyes, and sleep with them under your pillow, then the cat’ll find his way back to land.’ A melancholic longing for love and belonging that cuts to the heart.
In ‘Already Formed’, a woman watches a boy arrive at the holiday cottage next door and his presence prompts memories of her son Rory. A child that never was but still exists in the core of the heart, more true than a true love that was a mirage. A sad story, totally believable.
Huggins is a highly accomplished writer who uses language both beautiful and at the same time sparing, there are no indulgent passages of prose to detract from the main message. Every word is weighed before inclusion. A delight.
Read my review of Mandy Huggins’ flash fiction collection Brightly Coloured Horses.
If you like this, try:-
‘Uncommon Type’ by Tom Hanks
‘You Think It, I’ll Say It’ by Curtis Sittenfeld
‘Men Without Women: Stories’ by Haruki Murakami
‘Separated from the Sea’ by Amanda Huggins [UK: Retreat West]
And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
SEPARATED FROM THE SEA by @troutiemcfish #shortstories https://wp.me/p5gEM4-3qn via @SandraDanby