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Helen Stancey was born and brought up in Yorkshire. After attending University College London with a degree in English, she decided to remain in the capital, where she is still currently living. She was briefly involved in the fringe theatre, before qualifying in psychology and teaching in various colleges. Helen Stancey is married with three children. During the earlier years of her writing career she produced mostly poetry as well as some short dramatic pieces for children. Later she published two novels, 'Words' in 1983 and 'Common Ground' in 1986, and her most recent work, a collection of short stories, 'The Madonna of the Pool', which was published in July 2017.
Helen Stancey’s Relative Secrets is a highly readable story for readers who like to get lost in the drama and intrigue of other people’s relatable lives. Told in a straightforward style, with domestic detail and emotional ups and downs to heighten engagement, three generations of women are at the heart of this saga of family secrets. It’s set in 1999 and follows the family from the 1920s through to the millennium. The eldest of the women, Mary, is in a care home, her mind deteriorating. During a visit from grand-daughter Lucy, Mary makes strange statements that arouse Lucy’s curiosity. She tries to put them out of mind - until she finds a locket while clearing out Mary’s former room. Not wanting to upset her mother (not with her father gone, her elder brother away, and her little brother misbehaving), Lucy takes it upon herself to get to the bottom of the mystery - risking discovering truths that might unsettle the very foundations of their family. The drama builds slowly at first - there’s a considered, unhurried build-up, with lots of family backstory delivered before the revelations come. Then tension builds as Lucy delves deeper, and the questions keep coming - not merely what the secret is, but why it was covered-up. And, a question with universal resonance - is it sometimes better to simply let things be?
Helen Stancey's debut collection of short stories more than rivals her well-received novels, Words and Common Ground. The Madonna of the Pool is a fantastic collection of short stories which explore the triumphs, compromises and quiet disappointments of everyday life. Drawing on a wide array of characters, Helen Stancey shows how small events, insignificant to some, can resonate deeply in the lives of others. Richly poetic, deeply moving and entirely engaging, these short stories demonstrate an exquisite understanding of human adaptation, endurance and, most of all, optimism.