Wednesday 7 June 2023

An Apple from a Tree by Margaret Elphinstone

 This 1991 collection of short stories from Scottish based writer Margaret Elphinstone is a lovely mixture of realism, magical realism and science fiction. The author uses this blend of genres to explore the human relationship with nature as well as our relationships with each other. 

The title story sees Alison visit the Botanic Gardens in Edinburgh, where she meets a mysterious naked woman with whom she has a strange connection. Two of the other stories feature Oddney, the guardian of a well and the work she does to help nature stay in balance. 

The writing is beautiful, particularly the descriptions of nature, such as this, from the opening to The Cold Well: 

"She sat under the waterfall, letting the burn wash over her. The falls were white and full, churning the pool into a froth of air bubbles and brown water. Little waves lapped against the rocks, which were scoured into a smooth curve at the pool's edge, following the circling water. The water itself was soft with peat, bitter with acid, flowing over her with a touch like a northern breeze on a spring day..."

This is an engaging and thought-provoking collection of short stories from the author of The Sea Road (which I reviewed here). 

An Apple from a Tree by Margaret Elphinstone published (1991) by The Women's Press. 



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