Tuesday, August 12, 2014

An e-short story by Rachel Joyce

A Faraway Smell of Lemon

In actuality, I only read this e-short story because I received an email about another author's e-short story having been released this morning. Once I entered my Kobo account (Yes, there is a source for even e-books other than Amazon...), I realized that I had already purchased and downloaded that e-short story, but decided to purchase and read this one, realizing this author had also written The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry which our book club will be reading and discussing in January of 2015. I really wanted to acquaint myself with Joyce's writing style... (And I do have a confession regarding e-publications...unless it's a short story that I can only procure in electronic format, I don't. I read one e-book and I prefer the heft of the physical book in my hands. Though I do get the convenience factor of e-books...) 

I found Joyce's writing style to be very straightforward, yet revealing the "full story" gradually through the protagonist's interactions with and thoughts about others. Binny was a sympathetic character to whom I could relate, especially her aversion to cleaning house! ;) You can assume Binny has probably experienced a tough time developing romantic/interpersonal relationships since she is a self-described "giant" who must duck to clear doorways and is "big-boned" as her mother told her throughout her childhood. Typically, in our society/culture, larger women are not viewed as "attractive" or physically acceptable to others as partners.

I believe Binny's aversion to housekeeping was one symptom of her depression, resulting from repressing her own emotions, which becomes clear as the story unfolds. Her parents had died not so long ago, but she refused to cry or show her emotions at that time, then Oliver, her current "partner," ups and leaves her, confessing his affair with another woman who is now pregnant. Although Binny is beside herself, true to form, she is still willing herself to remain stoic, refusing to deal with the emotional turmoil.

Rather than dealing with her emotions by expressing them verbally, instead she chooses to throw plates, covering her kitchen floor with the "thousand blue ceramic pins" that were formed, then she "swept the splinters of china into her hands and squeezed until she felt them spike the skin." (This process reminded me a bit of "cutting" behaviors that some people do to "relieve" themselves of emotional overload/misery.)  

It was amazing to see how Binny reacted to the cleaning shop worker...and finally obtained some relief. Proof that none of us ever knows when we might have significant impact upon someone else's life in the seemingly most insignificant interactions.

I highly recommend this story. Have you read it? Or have you read anything else she has written? What was your reaction?


  1. Thanks for your review; it was clear and insightful. I have downloaded the story and look forward to reading it!