Long-listed for the 2016 Edge Hill Short Story Prize
Fly Away Home is Marina Warner’s third – and eagerly-awaited - collection of short stories. Inspired by fairy tales, legends, and mythology, this timeless selection explores the themes of love and war - in families, and between generations.
In ‘Mélusine’ a gorgeous mermaid encounters disaster in love and visits her aunt, Morgan le Fay, to pour out her woes ; in ‘Breadcrumbs’ a hospital patient overhears a night nurse recounting an extraordinary tale of family torn apart under terrifying circumstances. ‘Out of the Burning House’ introduces an elderly actor recalling an unusual case of heartbreak at the hands of a TV personality; in ‘The Difference in the Dose’ a young mother becomes increasingly anxious about the rift between herself and her adoptive mother. And in ‘Letter to an Unknown Soldier’ a thirteen year-old girl writes a heartrending second letter to an older brother away at war, having had no reply to her first…
Like her award-winning novels, Marina Warner’s stories conjure up mysteries and wonders in a physical world, treading a delicate, magical line between the natural and the supernatural, between openness and fear. An elegant mix of the poignant, the caustic, and the bizarre, Fly Away Home will be treasured by fans and new readers alike.
‘Warner weaves a world of myths, mermaids and male monsters, but the best stories here explore less familiar themes.’ —Suzi Feay, The Guardian
‘★★★★★ With their unique blend of ancient myth and contemporary concerns, Warner’s stories are often dark, always gripping, with unexpected flashes of humour and clashes of the real and the supernatural. The legendary Mélusine is transformed into an iPhone-wielding, sassy mermaid in a parable on desire and identity. When the relationship between a young dancer and her maverick patron takes a sinister turn, the girl escapes into an alternative world through the chinoiserie pattern on her curtains. Questions of gender and feminism, never far from the surface, are explored in a fresh manner. Warner’s writing is at its strongest when it eschews abstraction in favour of the physical – descriptions of human bodies, shimmering underwater creatures, miniature charms with talismanic powers. These are darkly glittering fairytales for our times.’ —Juanita Coulson, The Lady
‘Dame Marina Warner’s non-fiction is deeply concerned with myths, legends and fairytales. In this collection of magical, haunting short stories, ordinary situations are infused with strangeness, and the nursery-rhyme title suggests a common theme of loss and longing. In Out of the Burning House, an elderly actor in a care home wonders what he would save from a burning house: “your house is on fire, you can’t fly away home’’. He’s dwelling on his sexually confused teenage years, his passion for a TV star named Lesley Peake, and a first lesson in betrayal. Letter to an Unknown Soldier is a heartrending scrap of a story; a young girl is writing to her big brother away at war, when he hasn’t replied to the last one. And in Ladybird, Ladybird, a young woman who is trying to get pregnant has a weird encounter with a dress in a charity shop. Delicate and graceful.’ —Kate Saunders, The Times
‘Five stars. In this lovely collection of short stories full of wit and fantasy, Marina Warner show her ventriloquial gifts as a writer. Some read like fairy tales, others like literary short stories.’ —Brandon Robshaw, Independent on Sunday
‘Marina Warner is our doyenne of fairy stories.’ —The Guardian
‘Warner’s short stories, like those of AS Byatt, occupy a rich and delicate terrain between the fairytale and the real, the academic and the observed. Murderers I Have Known contains nine stories .... spun in a glittering web that traps ideas on innocence and evil in the physical world for our inspection. Flesh is manipulated, deceived, tortured and massacred, yet the intellectual poise of Warner’s prose makes it not only bearable but highly enjoyable.’ —Amanda Craig, The Times
‘JG Ballard maintains that there is no such thing as a perfect novel, but that short stories can, occasionally, achieve perfectioin. Evidence that he is right is provided by Marina Warner’s scintillating new short-story collection Murderers I Have Known in which she, too, displays elegant modern humour shot through with a sexiness not perhaps to be expected from a writer better known for non-fiction works on myth, magic, symbolism and fairytales.’ —Michael Thompson-Noel, The Financial Times
‘When it comes to the territory between commentator and storyteller, Warner is a pretty fluid shapeshifter herself. The stories in Murderers I Have Known, unremittingly contemporary in their settings and subjects, are a kind of warning about the importance of shapeshifting between selves, times, genders, art-forms, material and spiritual worlds. There is a danger, Warner suggests, right now at what she calls “the degenerate moment of the century”, of losing this ease of movement altogether. Not that this is a grim read; on the contrary, it is a lightfooted and often funny collection.’ —Ali Smith, The Guardian