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The Woman in White Marble

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The House with the Lilac Shutters

by Gabrielle Barnby

ISBN-10: 099297688X
ISBN-13: 978-0992976880
ASIN: B0121JSTLO

Amazon.com
Barnes and Nobel

The House with the Lilac Shutters is available as a paperback, Kindle edition, and a Nook Book.

Irma Lagrasse has taught piano to three generations of villagers, whilst slowly twisting the knife of vengeance; Nico knows a secret; and M. Lenoir has discovered a suppressed and dangerous passion. Revolving around the Café Rose, opposite The House with the Lilac Shutters, this collection of contemporary short stories links a small town in France with a small town in England, traces the unexpected connections between the people of both places and explores the unpredictable influences that the past can have on the present. Characters weave in and out of each other’s stories, secrets are concealed and new connections are made. With a keenly observant eye, Barnby illustrates the everyday tragedies, sorrows, hopes and joys of ordinary people in this vividly understated and unsentimental collection.

 

Gabrielle began writing nearly ten years ago when she moved from Oxford, UK to Christchurch, New Zealand leaving behind her scientific career. She works in a variety of genres including poetry and children's fiction. In 2014 her short story 'Hostel' appeared in Northwords Now and a selection of her poetry from the St Magnus Festival was published by the George Mackay Brown Fellowship in 'Waiting for The Tide’. Gabrielle moved with her family to Orkney four years ago, here she runs writing workshops for children and is also member of the Stromness Writers Group. She is currently working on a novel set in Orkney, as well as the odd short story.

She began working on The House With The Lilac Shutters and other stories three years ago whilst visiting her retired parents in the south of France. The local town provides inspiration for the setting of many of the stories, although a good number are also set in more far-flung reaches. Each story in the collection stands alone, but characters from one may reappear in another. The voices and styles are rich and varied. In different ways the stories explore how chance encounters can spread their influence over the course of a lifetime.

 

Reviews

From The Scotsman
(This review was written before the The House with the Lilac Shutters was available. The book is now availabe for purchase).

AN Orkney author is celebrating the publication of a book of short stories set in France and England, due out this later week.

The House With The Lilac Shutters, by Gabrielle Barnby, will hit the shelves on Thursday, 1 October.

And the Scottish island connection is not only with the author – the book will be released via South Uist-based ThunderPoint Publishing.

Revolving around the Café Rose, opposite the titular house, the collection of contemporary short stories links a small town in France with a similar-sized town in England.

It traces the unexpected connections between the people of both places and explores the unpredictable influences that the ripples of the past can have on the present.

Based in Orkney, and a member of the Stromness Writing Group, Gabrielle Barnby works in a variety of genres including poetry and children’s fiction.

She said: “Each story in the collection stands alone, but characters from one may reappear in another. In different ways the stories explore how chance encounters can spread their influence over the course of a lifetime.

“I began working on The House With The Lilac Shutters and other stories three years ago whilst visiting my retired parents in the south of France. The local town has provided the inspiration and the setting for many of the stories.

“After the initial burst of creativity there is a lot of hard work needed before a piece is completed, there are periods of doubt and anxiety. The never-ending drive towards getting something really, truly the best it can be is exhausting.”

In 2014, her short story Hostel appeared in Northwords Now and a selection of her poetry from the St Magnus Festival was published by the George Mackay Brown Fellowship in Waiting for The Tide.

Various pieces of her poetry and prose are included in Come Sit at Our Table, a collection of work by the Stromness Writing Group.

She is also a contributor to Kirkwall Visions, Kirkwall Voices, a creative response to the city supported by the Blide Trust.

Gabrielle’s early career was in science. She gained a D.Phil. from Oxford University in 2003 based on research into the molecular basis of autism and has numerous scientific publications on this topic. She began writing fiction after relocating to New Zealand in 2007.

Seonaid Francis, Director of ThunderPoint Publishing said: “With a keenly observant eye, Barnby illustrates the everyday tragedies, sorrows, hopes and joys of ordinary people in this vividly understated and unsentimental collection of short stories.”

The House With The Lilac Shutters has been described as a set of “beautifully observed descriptions of human jealousy, desire, guilt and love,” and one reviewer wrote, “The more I read, and the more descriptions I encountered, the more I was put in mind of one of my all time favourite texts – Dylan Thomas’ Under Milk Wood.”


From Linda’s Book Bag 

My grateful thanks to Huw Francis and the team at Thunderpoint for providing a copy of Gabrielle Barnby’s ‘The House With The Lilac Shutters and Other Stories’ in return for an honest review.

I rarely read short stories as I find them too brief to be fulfilling and rather frustrating. However, Gabrielle Barnby may just have converted me. ‘The House With the Lilac Shutters’ is a wonderful collection. Set in small towns in both France and England, the stories stand in their own right as beautifully observed descriptions of human jealousy, desire, guilt and love, but they also contribute to a completely satisfying whole.

As the stories progress, hints are dropped like pebbles in a pond so that each story ripples into another, revealing a bit more about a character from an earlier story and helping the reader build up an understanding of why characters are as they are. I do think they need to be read in the order in which they are presented to gain the most from their reading.

The image of heat runs through many of the stories, lowering like a thunderstorm about to break and making the reader wonder what lies, memories and truths might be about to be uncovered in a maelstrom of emotion. I almost found the undercurrents in Gabrielle Barnby’s writing sinister, even though there is humour, love and gentleness too. The linguistic style is totally fascinating.

The more I read, and the more descriptions I encountered, the more I was put in mind of one of my all time favourite texts – Dylan Thomas’ ‘Under Milk Wood’. There is a lyrical quality to the writing and descriptions make use of all the senses so that they are vivid and engaging; from the taste of Nico’s marzipan fruit to the colour of the lilac shutters themselves, Gabrielle Barnby paints layer upon layer of image. I could really visualise the settings and think the stories would make a fabulous television series.

I usually pass on review copies of books I have read, but I will be keeping ‘The Lilac Shutters and Other Stories’. Although I’ve read them once, I’m sure I’ve missed many elements and nuances and I look forward to returning to them in the future to see what else is there beneath the surface. I can heartily recommend these stories to all readers.

 

By TripFiction on October 9, 2015

Format: Paperback

The House with the Lilac Shutters is a series of vignettes, populated by characters who tumble across the pages. The author has a great writing style, lyrical at times in her use of words and can capture the feel of France, the narrative occasionally straying to England.

For me I felt I was observing a merry-go-round as the characters interacted and went about their business. But could I get on that fairground attraction with them? I really struggled. I thought perhaps it was the manner of my reading – I read the first half up to Irma Lagrasse and found a real disconnect. I then tried each “story” on its own subsequent to that but still struggled to get a feel/empathy for the people, beyond the black and white of the page.

The feeling of being discombobulated comes right from the cover at the outset – I loved the stark sunny photo, it just shouts SUNSHINE (and where I live, boy, do we need more of that). The photo depicts, however, blue shutters…. So, overall not a book for me.