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Girl, Balancing &Other Stories

by Helen Dunmore

Books of the Month Modern and Classic Literary Fiction

LoveReading View on Girl, Balancing &Other Stories

At once lyrical and sparse, intimate and expansive, delicate and sharp, this collection is the final work of a late, great writer who understood and articulated the subtle complexities of the human heart in each of her novels, poems and stories. The themes here will be familiar to Dunmore aficionados – friendship, family, folk at life’s liminal junctures. Take Nina, whose tales portray a young woman teetering into a new phase of life. She’s a naïve and lonely seventeen-year-old living in a drab bedsit, unsure of what to do, but making do and on the brink - one hopes - of finding her place in the world. Indeed, many of these stories explore life’s big transitions, and how individuals live with such precariousness, as in “A Night Out”, a life-affirming tale of two widows’ unforeseen unity beneath the stars. There’s much tenderness too, characters who awaken affection, a personal favourite being glorious Auntie Binnie, an unassuming companion to an old lady who blooms as an artist later in life (“Portrait of Auntie Binbag, with Ribbons”).


While Dunmore’s devotees will adore this treasure, I’d also recommend it wholeheartedly as an introduction to her exquisite writing.

Joanne Owen

Girl, Balancing &Other Stories Synopsis

Haunting, uplifting, beautiful: the final work from Helen Dunmore Helen Dunmore passed away in June 2017, leaving behind this remarkable collection of short stories. With her trademark imagination and gift for making history human, she explores the fragile ties between passion, love, family, friendship and grief, often through people facing turning points in their lives: A girl alone, stretching her meagre budget to feed herself, becomes aware that the young man who has come to see her may not be as friendly as he seems. Two women from very different backgrounds enjoy an unusual night out, finding solace in laughter and an unexpected friendship. A young man picks up his infant son and goes outside into a starlit night as he makes a decision that will inform the rest of his life. A woman imprisoned for her religion examines her faith in a seemingly literal and quietly original way. This brilliant collection of Helen Dunmore's short fiction, replete with her penetrating insight into the human condition, is certain to delight and move all her readers.

Girl, Balancing &Other Stories Press Reviews

This posthumous collection from the much-loved author, focusing on motherhood, war and women under threat, is an act of tender commemoration... there are new departures on the themes that preoccupied Dunmore: childhood, motherhood, war, friendship, forgotten lives. - Guardian - Book of the Week

Wisdom and wit shine out from Helen Dunmore's last stories...The simplicity of the writing is deceptive; Dunmore manages to say a lot about families, about the mystery of creativity, and the shock of seeing someone you thought you knew in a new light. - The Times

Dunmore's gift for period detail combines with the respect she has for her characters' inner lives to produce an effect that is oddly moving. - Sunday Times

Dunmore's love of history glints and gleams in this elegant, posthumous collection - The Daily Mail

Whether musing on a portrait of John Donne or a friendship between two widows, the late, much missed Dunmore always has something worth saying - Mail on Sunday, Event - Summer Reads

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All versions of this book

ISBN: 9781786090515
Publication date: 07/03/2019
Publisher: Windmill Books an imprint of Cornerstone
Format: Paperback

Book Information

ISBN: 9781786090515
Publication date: 7th March 2019
Author: Helen Dunmore
Publisher: Windmill Books an imprint of Cornerstone
Format: Paperback
Pagination: 400 pages
Genres: Books of the Month, Literary Fiction,
Categories: Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945), Short stories,

About Helen Dunmore

Helen Dunmore was the author of fourteen novels. Her first, Zennor in Darkness, explored the events which led to D H Lawrence’s expulsion from Cornwall (on suspicion of spying) during the First World War. It won the McKitterick Prize. Her third novel, A Spell of Winter, won the inaugural Orange Prize, now the Baileys Prize for Women’s Fiction. Her bestselling novel The Siege, set during the Siege of Leningrad, was described by Antony Beevor as ‘a world-class novel’ and was shortlisted for the Whitbread Novel of the Year and the Orange Prize.Helen Dunmore&...

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