In these stories of the impossible, master of the domestic thriller Sally Emerson introduces the eerie and supernatural into her keen-eyed portraits of everyday life …

A clerk working in a public register office begins to receive death certificates dated in the future, but can she alter fate and save their victims? A woman unable to have children discovers a way of cloning her husband, but is their cloned son destined to repeat the mistakes of his father? A suburban mother is prescribed health supplements with rather amorous side-effects; can she resist its sway and keep her hands off her neighbours?

#Perfect #StoriesOfTheImpossible @sallyemerson8 @GracePublicity 

Emerson’s tales of quotidian life invaded by forces beyond our control are both beguiling and uncanny, and ultimately uplifting as she celebrates reality and unreality in its many forms.

Fantastical, humorous and unfailingly honest in its depiction of humanity, Perfect will stay with the reader long after they leave the magic of its pages.

My Review

What great fun these stories are in a dark sort of way.

We start with Perfect and Portia and husband Jack want a child. After numerous unsuccessful attempts including IVF, she announces she has found another way.

‘IVF hasn’t worked,’ she says… ‘my proposal is this….you know that certain animals have been cloned…’

Jack is understandably unimpressed, ‘That’s out of the question…it is a monstrous idea.’

But Portia is not so easily deterred. What happens when Jack himself is cloned? Will the child turn out to be ‘perfect’?

Next we have a story called Lust. Emma feels under the weather so she takes the advice of an assistant at the local health food shop. An array of vitamin and herbal supplements especially for her. But which should she take and in what order? She was sure the assistant had told her but she couldn’t remember. Google came up with nothing. Oh well, go for it. Just take one of each. But the combination has some very unusual side effects and when the plumber rings the doorbell, and he turns out to be rather attractive, well…..

In Death Certificates, Susan looks after her cantankerous, dying father, but also works full time in London sending out copies of death, marriage and birth certificates. Then one ordinary day, two certificates appear in her tray. The death of a politician in an explosion and also that of a child. But the strange thing about them is that they are dated in the future. She puts them on her boss’s desk but he says he never saw them. What should she do? If she alerts the ‘victims’ they will think she is mad. If she doesn’t, how can she live with herself if it turns out to be true.

I loved this story. Just up my street.

But story four – Fairy Tales – was initially my favourite. Charlie is delighted to move out of his parents’ house into a flat at a price he can afford. He is at college studying to be an architect, when he sees the advert for a room with private bathroom and shared kitchen in a lovely house in Clapham. The ten page form he had to fill in, with questions about his likes and dislikes, including his favourite foods, was a bit unusual, but he may as well take a look.

When he arrives at his new lodgings, Mrs Watson tells him there is to be another lodger, an art student called Elinor. They would be sharing the kitchen, which always seemed to be stocked with the food he had said he liked. There is also regular ‘visitor’ – a fox in the garden, which Charlie watches with interest.

But all is not as it seems and things just get weirder and weirder.

Storms Like This is much shorter. Probably my least favourite, Phillip and Lydia are a totally mismatched couple who don’t seem to love each other very much. Lydia did love Phillip, or anyway feel compassion for him, in part because there was something so fearful about his brown eyes and his short, stocky body.’ Sounds more like my now sadly gone elderly Jack Russell. Lydia plays the violin and wants to join an orchestra, but Phillip finds her playing really annoying.

Everything about Phillip is annoying. I can’t understand why she married him. However, they are on their third anniversary cruise when a massive storm hits in more than just the weather.

Lucky With The Weather is the story of Mary, her two gorgeous grandchildren, Luke and Emily, and her rather odd husband of over 40 years, Matthew. What does he get up to in his locked office and with his even stranger ‘friends’? What are the weather maps for?

Another of my favourites, I could see myself in Mary – I have four gorgeous granddaughters – but my husband doesn’t have any weird secrets (at least I hope he doesn’t – though if they are secret….)

Mary wants to organise a treasure hunt for the whole family the following week, but the weather forecast is horrendous. However, that doesn’t deter Matthew from telling them to go ahead. What is he up to? Truly original and entertaining.

It took me a while to understand The Couple. I had no idea what was going on initially. Martin Carter, whose ancestor John Carter, The Master of St Edmunds, was burned to death as a heretic in the thirteenth century, is trying to find out more about him and his wonderful paintings.

In Los Angeles, while visiting a museum, Martin encounters two mysterious people, a beautiful woman with long white hair and a slightly overweight man in a linen jacket, who is a juggler (not sure why). No-one else sees them, apart from a girl called Alice who was knocked over by them on the steps outside. Who are they? Are they real? Were they actually there?

‘Oh, I’m always around,’ says the white-haired woman, ‘I’m on every street, on every corner, in every room, you only have to call me. But if you do, there will be trouble, that’s the problem.’

Martin has nightmares about the woman, while Alice has weird dreams about the man.

‘Terrifying, but electrifying. Did they frighten you?’ she asks.

Wow this final story was in a totally different league to the rest. Terrifying and electrifying, just like Alice’s description of The Couple. Good and Evil working together. Think Good Omens but without the humour – just brilliant.

Many thanks to Grace Pilkington Publicity for inviting me to be part of the blog tour.

About the Author

Sally Emerson is the award-winning author of six novels, including the bestselling Fire
Child, Heat and Separation, and a trio of anthologies of poetry and prose. Perfect is her first collection of short stories. She lives in London. Her website is www.sallyemerson.com

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: