The Outlaw Life

running, reading, blogging, loving

[18] “Diving Belles”

Diving Belles

“Diving Belles” is the title story of a collection written by Lucy Wood, and it’s a collection I’m sure you’ll see make it’s way on to this blog at least one more time! Lucy Wood has basically created these slightly dark, slightly creepy adult fairy tales, that exist in worlds that are what they are, and that make no explanations or apologies for the rules they abide by. YOU NEED TO READ THIS BOOK. SERIOUSLY.

The tale follows our narrator as she begins the process of going underwater in a diving bell (see the word play there? eh?! Did you catch that?) to look for her husband who, 40 years ago, was taken under the waves by mermaids. . The beauty of the world that Wood creates, however, means that this isn’t the strange part – this getting kidnapped by mermaids bit. Apparently this is quite a common thing, and there are some men in the town who have been kidnapped and returned multiple times. In fact, the part of the story that is so odd is that the narrator hasn’t gone looking for him in the last 40 years. The reasons why she’s waited, and how she felt to come home and see her husband gone, the floor wet and smelling of sea brine, are what compose the bulk of the story, as we flash back in time from the diving bell to the disappearance.

hipster arielHow can you talk about mermaids without talking about Hipster Ariel?

Wood just creates this punch-you-in-the-gut adult fairy tales that so blur the lines between this world and the ‘other’ that it’s hard to see where the line was to begin with, or even if there was a line. The world Wood creates under the water is one of the most hauntingly beautiful but lonely locations I’ve read in quite some time. The ending of the story left me sad, and when our narrator leaves the water, she leaves the reader with more questions than answers – questions about love, age, time, loneliness, awareness, and about a million other things that I didn’t think I’d be questioning when I started reading the story. The ending also left me wanting for more about the side of the story that Wood didn’t tell us – what about the other men in this village, and their wives, and how they handle this situation? What would her husband have been like if he’d been with her this whole time? What were these human-stealing mermaids like? It’s not that I was left feeling unsatisfied – in fact, I think that Wood creates a story and pulls us as readers in to it with the questions she creates, as much with the things she doesn’t say as much as the ones she does.

Ultimately, at the end of the day, this story begins and ends at the ocean, that ultimate symbol of something bigger than we are, of being pulled away, of something magical and mysterious – all of which could basically also be a metaphor for Lucy Wood. Basically.

Rating: OMFGZ!

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