I am a fan of Emma Donohue ever since reading Room. It was a brilliant book, and one of my favorites ever. I was recently at my local library, and was in the mood for a book of short stories. After some searching, it pleased me to learn about this collection by one of my favorite authors.
The stories in Astray are all based on real occurrences in history. While I like this type of story, I am often turned off by the style many writers use to tell them — dry and removed as if you’re reading a history book instead of a fictionalized version of events. Donohue however has a writing style that draws you in and makes you care about what is happening to her characters in a way some historical fiction does not.
Two of my favorite stories in the collection are “Onward,” about a possible fresh start for a young mother desperately in need of one, and “Daddy’s Girl” which involves some surprising revelations for a daughter on the death of her father. All of the stories appealed to me in some way though, and as I’ve said I truly enjoy Donohue’s story-telling style.
I am not always a fan of the short story format. I think many writers use the format to show off how literary and “arty” they are rather than trying to tell a story or, god forbid, entertain their readers. Emma Donohue shows that it’s possible for a short story to be both well-written and entertaining in this collection. I highly recommend it.