The South Westerlies is an attempt to know place (Gower) through the creation of a collection of short stories. Place is not a cosmetic backdrop, but an affecting agent in the lives of a wide cast of fictional characters. The collection is unified by the tone of the prevalent dank south-westerly wind that blows across the peninsula, the UK’s first designated area of outstanding natural beauty. However, the author chooses to let her gaze fall on the downsides of a much vaunted tourism destination and a place that is too beautiful, perhaps, for its own good. -from GoodReads
There’s this strange tone to these stories, like Jane fraser has captured that mournful gloomy feeling that hovers over the coast threatening rain, somehow capturing that atmosphere of a grey and overcast seascape. I can’t put my finger on it, it’s just an unsettling feeling, a wrongness about a character in the story. A woman whose husband tries to do everything for her but her moods. A man whose wife leaves and gets obsessed with wasps that die in his conservatory. These are compelling stories with vivid characters written with vivid detail. Although I haven’t been to the places in this book they are drawn enough for me to feel as though I’m there. One story tugs at feelings of nostalgia and I feel a little bit in sync with the story, others are sad stories about loss and longing. Snapshots into lives of farmers, wives of farmers and different people who live by the sea.
Stories like ‘On the Fourteenth Day’ capture the spirit of the sea and the myths it evokes. ‘Everything Around Here is Turning to Rust’- about a woman with an arrogant old fashioned husband, who seemed impressive and then she married him to be treated like a slave, the type of man who thinks a womans place is to cook etc and won’t do it for himself. This story had an ending that left me wondering. My favourite is ‘The Black Ribboned Hat’, it tugs at the heart and draws you in.
These are poetic stories, at first maybe I thought they were too sombre but they are so much more than that. I enjoyed this collection, I don’t think I’ve read anything else like it and I can see myself revisiting this again. Beautiful stories.