Review: A Snow Garden & Other Stories, by Rachel Joyce

Edit. Edit. Edit. It’s what writers do and it’s what makes good stories great. But what happens to those characters that end up on the cutting room floor and those moments the author once thought page-worthy?

In the case of renowned author, Rachel Joyce, you dust them down and end up with, A Snow Garden & Other Stories. This collection of seven interlinked Christmas-themed tales’, explores the depth and fragility of human emotions, so often brought to a head during the festive season.

A Snow Garden & Other Stories, published by Transword Books

A Snow Garden & Other Stories, published by, Transworld Books

Each of the seven stories’ provides a snapshot into key character’s lives; as a reader you find yourself playing the role of a secret bystander in each of these seasonal tales.

A Faraway Smell of Lemon, follows Binny (originally penned as a bit-part in Joyce’s novel, Perfect), a single mum fraying at the seams who perceives everyone and everything as being better off. Yes, she’s been through the emotional wars, but a chance encounter in an unfamiliar environment brings with it some much-needed cleansing and provides a fresh perspective on her life.

As a new mum I found the simplicity of, Christmas at the Airport, an inspired take on a modern day nativity. Without overcomplicating the reality of labour, Joyce, manages to convey the anxiety, the unknown and the fear of birth, so tastefully. The surrounding chaos of an overcrowded airport and self-importance each of the supporting character’s puts on themselves, only adds to the innocence and beauty new life brings. Truly heart-warming.

Joyce’s clever use of imagery, delicately takes the reader through these subtly linked stories, throwing up emotions and experiences known to us all: life, love, loss, betrayal, regret. It’s all there.

The title story, A Snow Garden, introduces Henry, a downtrodden father trying hopelessly to restore his sons’ faith in the magic of Christmas and himself. The result is seasonally heartfelt and will have readers glowing on the inside coupled, no doubt, with a touch of snowflake-covered envy.

Joyce’s final instalment, Trees, brings with it a whole new perspective on Oliver (a character the reader is introduced to earlier in this series). Trees, packed full of symbolism and unspoken emotion, is a fitting end to Joyce’s seasonal saga. Although festive in nature, the themes and feelings confronted in Joyce’s seven stories’ apply year-round – A Snow Garden & Other Stories, is definitely not just for Christmas.

Author, Rachel Joyce

Author, Rachel Joyce

(Complimentary copy of, A Snow Garden & Other Stories, provided by, Transworld Books, for review purposes – released 5 November 2015).