When sisters Kezia and Rosie arrive at their grandparents’ house in the summer of 1986 they aren’t sure when they’ll see their Mum and Dad again.
While her younger sister Rosie is content playing on the allotment gate and having picnics in the garden, Kezia begins to realise that things aren’t quite what they seem. While embraced in Granddad and Grandma’s loving care, it’s not long before seven-year old Kezia begins to notice strange looks between them, hushed whispers, and secret phone calls. She realises she must step into the frightening adult world if she is to make sense of her parent’s troubled marriage.
Written in beautifully delicate prose, Rebecca Burns’ collection of linked short stories explores how a child learns to navigate new familial territory, the heartache of uncertainty, and a growing understanding of what, exactly, real love means.
“A captivating and tender portrayal of the impact of a shattered marriage on its young daughters. Burns’ writing is luminous in its truth and simplicity.”Louisa treger, author of the lodger and the dragon lady
“That dandelion. A flash of stubborn yellow in a dark box of space. It had promised sunshine but had tasted sour.”
Artefacts. A dandelion. A mayfly. A family, bereft. Items and mementos of a life, lived hard and with love, or long, empty, bitter. In these sharply drawn and unflinching short stories, Rebecca Burns unpicks the connection between the lives we live and what we leave behind.
“Burns writes with subtle compassion and profound insight. The characters are real, holding onto memories, honouring rituals, moving on, confronting loss or exposing their vulnerabilities. We grasp some small understanding of who they are and the experiences that shaped them or the experiences that will ultimately define them.”Sara Nina
Marriage transplants Sarah thousands of miles from home; a failed love affair forces Phoebe to make drastic choices in a new environment; a sudden, shocking discovery brings Mrs Ellis to reconsider her life as an emigrant – The Settling Earth is a collection of ten interlinked stories, focusing on the British settler experience in colonial New Zealand, and the settlers’ attempts to make sense of life in a strange new land.
“These are wonderful stories, describing the lives of women coming to terms – in different ways – with a radical break to their previous lives. They are women who relive the desperate circumstances that led them to emigrate even as they face new problems and see the dream of a new life fade.”david, blue book balloon
Sudden, shattering moments of realisation; creeping, gradual self-awareness. A lonely widow living in the Australian Outback has an unexpected encounter with a visiting scientist; an ice-hockey star returns to the site of his home town, now razed to the ground; a grieving husband recalls incidents from his married life – the characters in each tale experience moments of introspection and self-scrutiny, quite out of step with their daily lives.