It was back in January when Sue Hampton kindly sent me her book of short stories, Ravelled and Other Stories, for review but I have only now been able to get to it to read. Having previously featured Sue’s husband Leslie Tate on Linda’s Book Bag here, I feel it’s only right to redress the balance!
Ravelled and Other Stories
In these vivid explorations of love, loss and longing, novelist Sue Hampton uses humour as well as poetry, but character always leads.
Varied and distinctive, these stories range from sharp to poignant and contemporary to lyrical and fable-like. It’s a collection full of humanity.
My Review of Ravelled and Other Stories
Ravelled is a mix of stories from the allegorical The Goddess, through the more prosaic Away For Christmas to the reworking of a fairy story in The Brute and the Beast.
I don’t often read short stories so I thought I’d just dip in to Ravelled and read the first one as I had just finished another book. Before I knew where I was, an entire block of time had vanished and I had devoured every one! I was immediately gripped by the first in the collection, The Boarder, as there is a husband called Steve. My husband is called Steve. The protagonist, Kate, is grieving her recently deceased father. I’m grieving my recently deceased father. Kate’s father had been unhappy at boarding school. My father-in-law had been unhappy in boarding school. In Away for Christmas, I felt Gerry was exactly the kind of woman I could become and she was the character I liked most in all of the tales. In If, Tess is the same age as me. There are Lindas in Ravelled and Susan wants to be known as Sue, just like my own sister Sue. It felt as if Sue Hampton was writing something that I could immediately relate to and that she was also prepared to lay bare her own soul in the telling. I wonder whether being a woman of a certain age means that this collection appeals so much?
In fact I loved all Sue Hampton’s writing. Sometimes her meaning is ever so slightly obscure so that the reader can bring their own interpretation to the story and extract a meaning that makes it entirely personal to them. She creates poetry with her words and people in whom the reader can instantly believe and with whom they can empathise. I encountered more emotion and better drawn people in each short story that I often find in lengthy novels.
I loved the themes of love, loss, loneliness, forgiveness, youth, age and relationships that form the basis of every story. There is an intensity of passion, hope and love that shines through even the most adverse moments in the stories. There is also great humour. Read where Tess needs to keep her handkie in If!
From rarely reading short stories, Sue Hampton has persuaded me that I must read more. Ravelled is a gorgeous collection; beautifully written and touching so that I recommend it most highly.
About Sue Hampton
Sue Hampton writes for adults as well as children and teenagers, and across genres. An ex-teacher, she was inspired by the stories of Michael Morpurgo, because she witnessed their emotional power over young readers. Sue aims to write deep, compelling novels that will make people think and feel. Now a full-time author, Sue visits schools of all kinds and works with young people of all ages.
Many of her passions can be detected in her novels, which are all different, (some historical, one futuristic, one magical and funny) but have in common themes like love, courage, freedom and our right to be different.
Sue herself looks a little different from most women because she has alopecia, having lost all her hair in 1981. After writing The Waterhouse Girl about a girl with alopecia, she began going bareheaded and feels strangely liberated even though it isn’t easy. As an Ambassador for Alopecia UK she supports others with hair loss and led a team on Eggheads, winning £25K for the charity. Sue also lectures on the importance of fiction in school.