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The Pre War House and Other Stories is the debut collection from Alison Moore whose first novel The Lighthouse was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize and Specsavers National Book Awards 2012The stories collected here range from her first published short story which appeared in a small journal in 2000 to new and recently published work In between Moore’s stories have been shortlisted for than a dozen different awards including the Bridport Prize the Fish Prize the Lightship Flash Fiction Prize the Manchester Fiction Prize and the Nottingham Short Story Competition The title story won first prize in the novella category of The New Writer Prose and Poetry Prizes

10 thoughts on “The Pre War House and Other Stories

  1. says:

    Some people can dip in and out of short story collections over a long period of time rationing them so that each re encounter with the author's themes and techniues feels fresh I can't do this I am too obsessive about needing to either complete or abandon books and have too much of a need to catalogue everything I consume The only exception might be a huge anthology with multiple authors; otherwise when I start reading a book of short stories I read the whole book usually pretty uicklyThe problem with my approach of course is that ingesting so many stories so swiftly can make recurrent topics moods and motifs seem overused and tedious While not a huge tome The Pre War House is a comprehensive collection of Alison Moore's short fiction containing 24 stories Many of them are concerned with the banal inevitabilities of family life husbands and wives becoming bored of one another or cheating; parents not understanding their children and children not understanding their parents; the sombre reality of reckoning with old age and uietly making it through grief I found after a while that this litany of bleak domestic scenes was starting to become worn out samey making the stories seem to merge together and some of them slipped out of my memory almost instantly Yet I love Moore's writing and adored her brilliant novel Death and the Seaside; indeed her grasp on the mundane and the strangeness always lurking within it was one of my favourite things about that book But with so much of the same thing – and less space to establish characters motivations or atmosphere – in The Pre War House I longed for a bit of macabre glee something to give it a jump start I don't think I read this book in the right way really and it's made me think that next time I read a short story collection I will take it slowly and try to leave myself some room to digest each one before starting the nextI did like the opening story the arresting 'When the Door Closed It Was Dark' it's tense claustrophobic and horribly frustrating putting you in the shoes of an au pair working for a taciturn but oppressive family My two joint favourites were 'Overnight Stop' which sees a newlywed woman en route to her honeymoon trapped in a hotel with an acuaintance she's desperate to avoid and 'Small Animals' about a couple of friends who call on a woman and her 'difficult' daughter and are drawn into a rather terrifying sceneTinyLetter | Twitter | Instagram | Tumblr

  2. says:

    This collection of 24 short stories showcases Alison Moore's talent for writing understated yet atmospheric narratives with bleak undertones of foreboding on every page Unlocked doors and empty rooms feature freuently with recurring themes of domestic tension and the yearning to escape the pastMoore is especially skilled in crafting the perfect image to evoke the fragility and poignancy of life as in this excerpt from the title story'In the front garden in the narrow beds the flowers which emerged in what felt like the first days of spring lie buried beneath the late snow their opening buds like small mouths gaping in shock their stems broken'

  3. says:

    view spoilerBettie's BooksThe rating any status updates and those bookshelves indicate my feelings for this book hide spoiler

  4. says:

    After falling in love with The Lighthouse I had to get my hands on thisI am really enjoying itI love how again the author does not use 1 word that is not neededWhen you finish a story you feel like you were gifted the whole completelyWith nothing less and nothing just added on for the sake of itYou hold the core in your handsI love her twist and yet untwist endings I am so looking forward to by this writer Finished the collection now loved it

  5. says:

    From BBC Radio 4 ExtraTales from Man Booker nominated author Alison Moore's debut collection of short stories read by Ruth Gemmell

  6. says:

    These days I read short stories than I used to – but generally I prefer short stories written by that generation of women writers that wrote at a time when short stories were rather fashionable Dating from between the 1930’s and the 1960’s probably writers like Elizabeth Taylor Mollie Panter Downes and Dorothy Whipple are wonderful examples of the kind of short story writing I like I often find modern short stories leave me a little cold they sometimes try to be just a bit too clever there’s almost always a twist that I can’t help but start looking for while still on the second paragraph and they’re often so very short they don’t even last the time it takes to drink a cup of teaI read and loved Alison Moore’s The Lighthouse last year and so I knew that I really wanted to read this collection when it came out I was therefore delighted to win a copy of it from AlexinLeeds in her giveaway This collection was put together with stories that had been previously published in various journals and anthologies along with three stories that are original to this collection and I assume written for it “Halfway up the iron staircase she pauses She stands still her arms aching nausea swelling in her stomach She listens to the distant buzz of life the sounds coming from the market and the factory – a noisy windowless box of a building in which Uncle works on a production line She had often wondered what it would be like to spend so much of your life like that without daylight without sunshine without fresh air “The collection opens with the rather chilling and very memorable “When the Door Closed it was Dark” about a young woman working as an au pair in a foreign country trapped and bullied by her employers who take her passport and her money Many of the stories that follow have similarly dark themes A newly wed setting off on her honeymoon encounters a slimy manipulative man who knows her darkest secret in the airport hotel following the delay of her flight Secrets between a father and his daughter and between her and her mother punctuate a family’s history a devoted husband rummages in the kitchen drawer of his dying wife unearthing old recipes and ancient letters In one of my favourite stories “Small Animals” a woman takes her psychologist friend to visit a woman whose young daughter may have been displaying some odd behaviour The final story – The Pre War House – the longest in the collection – was another one I particularly liked telling the dark story of a family and their house “’This house was brand new’ said my Grandmother ‘When I was a child in the 1930’s before the war ‘The garden was nothing but mud from one end to the other My father laid the brick path down to the end wall marked out the vegetable patch and grassed the rest of it over’ Little about the house had been changed since then We were sitting on the same pre war three piece suite with pre war family photographs arranged on the pre war furniture and pre war pictures hanging on the high walls Pre war curtains kept the sunlight off the pre war wallpaper and the pre war carpets and pre war clock ticked in the hallway”There is dark psychological bent to these stories happy endings – having read The Lighthouse I was unsurprised to find – are not something to expect from Alison Moore Themes of people trapped betrayed keeping secrets and suffering loss are deftly explored Moore writing is beautifully spare – not a word wasted she is a gifted writer with a wonderful eye for detail One or two stories were rather too short for my liking and I did find that Alison Moore does do that twist thing in her short stories; it’s certainly not something I dislike necessarily though the reader can start to anticipate how things might pan out Over on Goodreads I gave this book three stars – that always looks bad – but I don’t think it is and for me this collection was of a three and a half stars anyway – just not uite four I’m looking forward already to Alison Moore’s next book – I sort of hope it’s a novel though

  7. says:

    A great collection of stories Each one was unsettling and some were slightly sinister They left you feeling unsettled and disturbed I loved it

  8. says:

    Most of the stories ended ugly and abruptly and were filled with grief or horror or both None of these will make you feel good which is ok

  9. says:

    This is a great debut collection from Alison Moore and it is easily understood why many have been shortlisted for different awards They are thought provoking for the reader with conclusions not always crystal clear but left to the reader to draw from the well described inferences provided Cleverly compiled and many dealing with the trials and tribulations of growing up and from a feminine perspective These are written by an author who has been around the block and lived a bit I would find it worrying if they are all from her personal experience if not a bit harrowing Well written Concise Modern themes from modern day to day life Insightful enjoyable Highly recommended A talented author I must get The Lighthouse her highly rated novel nextOther professional reviews

  10. says:

    A badly mixed selection Whereas the titular story and others like Jetsam and Helicopter Jean are beyond amazing and could be classed as definitive examples of how a short story should be written there are others here which are mediocre or even in a couple of cases below par plus some ho hum genre stories which really don't belong in this collection Most of the material here has been previously published in magazines and it should have been left that way until the author had enough of her frankly stunning material available to make the collection she should have published I'm being a bit harsh here I know but it's galling to see such genius work being diluted with pot boiler stories