A while ago lovely Sue Hampton asked me if I would review one of her short stories that was about to be part of a new anthology and I was delighted to review The Pomegranate Flower. Little did I realise that Sue would be sending me a finished copy of her latest book, Instead, containing The Pomegranate Flower, with me quoted within its pages.
Now, I had considered simply announcing the details of Instead sharing my review of the one story and leaving it at that because, like all bloggers, I have more books than there are years left in my life to read them. However, I’ve read work by Sue before and I hoped I would enjoy the complete collection in Instead as much as I did Ravelled, my review of which you can read here. I was right. I did!
Sue has also written a super guest post for Linda’s Book Bag to celebrate one of her children’s books when The Lucy Wilson Mysteries: Avatars of the Intelligence was published and you can read that post here.
Instead is available for purchase here.
Instead is a new collection of short stories for adults to follow Ravelled and Woken.
There are stories set in the past and in the present, and you will notice a range of styles – but no fairy tales or fables this time, no fantasy or magic realism. With Instead I’m keeping it real. Whatever the arc, genre or seed of each story, I believe they all offer hope as well as humanity – because if we are to make a better world to share, then humanity is where hope lies.
My Review of Instead
An eclectic mix of stories and people.
Sue Hampton is an astounding writer. She takes the constrained boundaries of the short story in Instead and makes them into something magical. Within a very few words Sue Hampton draws in the reader and immerses them in the lives of her characters who feel real, human and flawed. This is such beautifully crafted writing that I can see myself returning to the collection time and again and finding something new each visit; a nuance, a meaning, a feeling that I may have missed the first time. The stories in Instead seem to operate on many levels.
Sue Hampton writes with what feels to me like great humanity. Occasionally there is a slight ambiguity in her stories giving the reader opportunity to decide their own interpretation and outcomes. I loved the balance of age, race and gender woven throughout making it feel as if Instead gives status and credence to all. The balance of sentence length, direct speech to exposition and the inclusion of so many aspects of real life from procreation to grief all add up to a gorgeously satisfying reading experience.
The plots of the stories in Instead could easily be full length novels because there is so much packed into them. Not a word is wasted and yet there is a texture of emotion, the senses and action that belies their length. The themes explored are so relevant to all, from poverty to friendship, infidelity to sexual identity so that all life is available in this slim volume.
Not only did I enjoy reading the stories, but I found the opinions of the reviewers shared after each one fascinating. It was as if Instead was my own personal book group where I was able to listen to a discussion as well as read so that this felt like a very interactive experience.
I always proclaim that I’m not overly fond of short stories. In Instead, Sue Hampton has proven me a liar. I loved this collection.
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, (often historical, futuristic, 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.