Books Magazine

Short Stories Challenge – Still Life by Dianne Gray from the Collection Manslaughter And Other Tears

By Bibliobeth @bibliobeth1


What’s Still Life all about?:

Still Life is the story of two sisters who when discussing a horrific event in their past, appear to each have completely different memories of it.

What did I think?:

This review has taken me so long to write as, to be honest, I’m struggling a bit with what to say about it! I’m very aware of keeping my reviews as spoiler-free as possible as I’m not a fan of having any read ruined for me before I’ve had a chance to experience it myself. This is one of those stories where I’m finding it difficult to write about for fear of unleashing a major spoiler and I believe the less you know about it the better.

So what can I say about it? Well, it’s the story of two sisters, Di and Sam who are sitting by the sea and talking about a major traumatic event in their lives. They promised each other that they wouldn’t discuss it again but it’s one of those terrible things that cannot be easily forgotten and they both find a therapeutic way to let their feelings out about it. Di chooses to write about what happened and Sam decides to paint a picture. However, they are both having trouble with the other’s artistic talent – both girls believing that the other has got the sequence of events wrong and is telling an inaccurate version of what actually happened.

What I wasn’t expecting with this story was how dark it actually was. When it begins, the author lulls you into a false sense of security, believing that this is a “nice” story of two sisters having fun on a beach. It is far from that and the action kicks in surprisingly quickly. By the second page, when Sam prompts her sister Di on the exact words she should be saying (what really happened on that night according to Sam) it was certainly an unexpected shock to the system. The story immediately morphs into something else, something a lot darker and more sinister than your average memory shared between loved ones.

I’ve read this story a total of four times now in my fight to decide what to say about it and I find something new to analyze every time I read it. I think readers who enjoy a little bit of the macabre will definitely appreciate it but be warned, it’s not for the faint-hearted. At times, I did feel that I wanted more information from the author as it seems like a hell of a lot is left unsaid but I also believe that’s part of the magic of this particular story – much is left up to your own imagination, and mine is particularly vivid!

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

3 Star Rating Clip Art

NEXT SHORT STORY: Notes From The House Spirits by Lucy Wood from the collection Diving Belles

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