Saturday 21 January 2012

Review: A Knowing Look & other stories by Rebecca Emin

From the heat of the African plain to the chilled winter air in rural England, this book will take you on a journey via a collection of emotive short stories.

Birth, death, and some of the challenges that arise in between are covered in this selection of fiction for adult readers. (via Goodreads)

A Knowing Look is a collection of brief short stories and flash fiction. The subjects are wide ranging, but what they all have in common is emotionally charged prose with an often unexpected twist at the end – designed to make the reader realise their full effect and perhaps mirror the unpredictability of life's challenges.

Now, I really enjoyed Emin's childrens/young adult novel, New Beginnings (review here). But unfortunately this collection didn't quite do it for me as I don't think her style of writing suits adult fiction. This is not a bad thing, however, as it's great for younger readers; just like those who would love a book like New Beginnings.

With that said, there were a few stories I enjoyed, but also some that left me feeling short changed. The Passenger, for example, was one that concluded when I thought it was just beginning, and I thought Class of 1990 could use a little more explanation. Also, some stories I thought would work better as poetry, such as Grace, And the Wind Blows, and Listen (interestingly, these are all written in 2nd person narrative). But stories I did enjoy were A Knowing Look which has a gorgeous African setting with a heartwarming visit from a herd of elephants, The Gift which has a well-tackled violent beginning, and Tour And Duty which sees a soldier returning to normal life after serving abroad in the military.

Altogether, I thought this was a good effort but finished shy of the mark. Again, from my perspective Emin's style is better suited for childrens and young adult fiction, rather than adult fiction.

Rating: 3 / 5

To learn more about Rebecca's books, visit her blog at