Book review: Safely Gathered In by Sarah Schofield

Synopsis

A woman grows increasingly annoyed by her husband’s emails, offering advice and reminders even months after his death… A taxidermist dreams of preserving one of his clients after she takes him out for a coffee… A grieving nurse is troubled by her daughter’s fascination with the Iron Lady… In Safely Gathered In, Sarah Schofield probes at the heart of what forms us and what we, in turn, form. The stories collected here expose the spaces that words often fail to reach and examine how objects—both manmade and natural—can reflect the darkest manifestations of grief and disconnection. From the child acting out a family betrayal in the comfort of her dolls house, to the sister making wind-up toys from the dead birds she finds on her doorstep, this debut collection ventures into the surreal and delivers a sense of unease that leaves us questioning why we gather the things we do.

Review

I enjoyed this little short story collection! I always enjoy a story with quietly unsettling notions and themes so this collection really delivered on that front.

As with all collections, some stories I gelled with better than others. I think a few went a little over my head and I often think short stories should come with a bit of context because they’re so small that I sometimes feel like I’m missing the point.

That being said, my favourite stories were Dead Man’s Switch, Two Feet Together (great Shirley Jackson vibes from this one!), Expectant Management, Rejoice, About You, and Shake Me and I Rattle.

Lots of these stories explore grief or loss in some way. Lots touch on the natural world and others look at how we find & accept comfort at the expense of others or ourselves. There is a melancholic tone to a lot of them but some also showed hope or were even funny in places.

A really interesting collection that I’m glad to have read! A great debut collection from Schofield, definitely one to watch!

Ad-gifted by the publishers Comma Press.

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

One Reply to “Book review: Safely Gathered In by Sarah Schofield”

  1. I’ve been meaning to read more short stories (since I’ve been trying my hand at writing them,) and this collection sounds really interesting! 🙂 The cover art is beautiful too. Thank you, I’ll be adding this to my to-read list.

    Liked by 1 person

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