Short Stories

Review: The Haunting of Strawberry Water by Tara Gould

I received this book for free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

the haunting of strawberry water by tara gould - Review: The Haunting of Strawberry Water by Tara GouldThe Haunting of Strawberry Water by Tara Gould
Published by Myriad Editions on January 29th 2020
Genres: Fiction, Short Stories (single author), Suspense, Thrillers, Women
Pages: 64
Format: ARC, Paperback
Source: Publisher
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four stars - Review: The Haunting of Strawberry Water by Tara Gould

‘This dazzling series shows that if the barriers can be vaulted there is true beauty to be had from the lesser-walked streets of literature. These works are both nourishing and inspiring, and a gift to any reader.’ —Kerry Hudson
A gripping tale of post-natal depression, this short story reads like a modern retelling of The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman and has much in common with Sarah Water' The Little Stranger in its realisation of psychological distress as a supernatural phenomenon.A new mother, traumatised by an arduous labour, tries to come to terms with being abandoned as a baby by Olivia, the mother she never knew. Set in the eponymous ‘Strawberry Water’, a mysterious 1920s country bungalow which overlooks a fast-flowing river, the story begins with a faded photograph of the woman our narrator assumes to be her mother.
Spotlight Books is a collaboration between Creative Future, New Writing South and Myriad Editions to discover, guide and support writers who are under-represented due to mental or physical health issues, disability, race, class, gender identity or social circumstance.

The Haunting of Strawberry Water catapults you into an ethereal memory of an important figure.  A Mother.  An extension of yourself, connected by genes and love.  Someone that will stand by you until their last breath.  They can protect you or they can destroy that link forever.  Tara Gould depicts an elegant but deeply heart-breaking tome that displays the links between motherhood and mental health.  It’s disturbing but so very perfect.  Gould is an artist of trauma, she knows exactly how to inject a longing and flaw to her character.  Is our outcome in life more of an inevitability due to our childhoods or can it be altered?

An extremely toxic relationship between a girl and her forgotten mother.  It’s the kind of novel that will capture your attention and have you examining your own relationship with your mother.  It’s deeply claustrophobic.  The regimes that the abandoned daughter goes through to keep that one link to the forgotten one.  The narrative voice is strong, with a sense of melancholy that seems to escalate as the character ages.  It was interesting to see a child grow right before our eyes.  Her mannerisms, her growth, her constant longing for answers to a broken link in a chain.  Her own change into a mother herself. 

It really is a story of growth and change.  A coming of age story.  However, I felt the story was directed more towards Olivia, the mother.  Why she left, who she was, where did she go?  She was the ever-present ghost in the life of a girl that shaped how she lived her own life.  Becoming a mother is a massive event, it changes you in ways you never knew were even possible.  You suddenly have this little bundle that you are completely responsible for and it can weigh heavily on you.  Your previous life is never going to be the same again.  You must change and adapt.  It was a highly emotional study of relationships and hardship.  Regret and longing. 

The Haunting of Strawberry Water is a totally original, emotionally charged short story of incredible loss of potential.  The potential of love.  It’s dark and layered. 

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Tara Gould studied visual arts at Brighton University and an MA at Sussex University. Her short stories have been published in anthologies including the Asham Anthology for Women Writers, and her plays have been broadcast on BBC Radio 4. In 2016 she was Writer in Residence at Creative Futures. She lives in East Sussex.
four stars - Review: The Haunting of Strawberry Water by Tara Gould

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