The South Westerlies is an attempt to know place (Gower) through the creation of a collection of short stories. Place is not a cosmetic backdrop, but an affecting agent in the lives of a wide cast of fictional characters. The collection is unified by the tone of the prevalent dank south-westerly wind that blows across the peninsula, the UK’s first designated area of outstanding natural beauty. However, the author chooses to let her gaze fall on the downsides of a much vaunted tourism destination and a place that is too beautiful, perhaps, for its own good.
‘Fraser’s stories are compellingly told and carefully crafted. She shares a heightened, acute sense of language with Annie Proulx and the right to comparison with such a prose stylist is properly won. And just as Proulx claims the lodgepole pines and wide-skied landscape of Wyoming as her own so too does Jane Fraser take the wind-flensed land’s edge of north Gower and make it hers. She has given this reader, at least, what he so often desires, namely the tang and sharpness of savouring language seemingly newly minted.’ —Jon Gower
‘The South Westerlies is obviously the work of a serious, committed and thoughtful writer, open to both inner and outer realms, the quivering sensitivities of the self, and the tactile, textured world outside, a kind of aesthetic elision between character and place.’ —Alan Bilton
‘The South Westerlies illustrate a landscape depicted with great specificity and detail, interfusing an exploration of place with the lives and perceptions of the characters who inhabit it… The stories display a sure grasp of the short story form and the techniques and processes of prose fiction … The collection is an original and valuable contribution to the literature of Gower and Wales.’ —Tristan Hughes
‘Similarly, Jane Fraser maps out the edge of north Gower in this supremely confident debut collection with its “farmhouses limewashed in the vernacular style,” its persistent grey rains and the dominant southwesterly winds which bonsai the hedgerow trees and equally shape the stubborn characters who work the land hereabouts.
So many stories are shored up by fine, nuanced landscape-writing such as “Just in Case” which presents the reader with the burrows “brushed with the burnished bronze of sunrise and the conical dunes, a lunar landscape, sharply defined and stark with shadow that will lift with the rising sun.” Lovely stuff, and there’s lots of it but always balanced by shadow, the darkness seeping in like damp.’ —Jon Gower, Nation Cymru
‘One of those books that arrives like a surprise, unexpected, a bolt from the blue, and knocks you back on your heels with the pleasure of reading it. A terrific debut short story collection.’ —Bookmunch
‘4/4 Fraser is a consummate short story writer. Each story conveys an aspect of life on the Gower; they are succinctly told, not a word wasted, and they are emotionally charged. They are simple tales beautifully told, sometimes utilising the lyrical Welsh language, they are layered and nuanced. Small moments that somehow make a vast landscape of human experience. This feels like a story from the heart, something of the place and people where Jane Fraser lives is conveyed to the reader. ’ —Paul Burke, NB Magazine