Counterfeiter. Dishwasher. Prostitute. Attorney. Sculptor. Mercenary. Elephant. Corpse. The fascinating characters that roam across the pages of Emma Donoghue's latest fact-inspired fictions have all gone astray: they are emigrants, runaways, drifters.
They cross other borders, too: those of race, law, sex, and sanity. They travel for love or money, incognito or under duress. Donoghue describes the brutal plot hatched by a slave in conjunction with his master's wife to set them both free; she draws out the difficulties of gold mining in the Yukon, even in the supposedly plentiful early days, and she takes us to an early Puritan community in Massachusetts unsettled by an invented sex scandal.
Astray also includes "The Hunt'" a shocking confession of one soldier's violent betrayal during the American Revolution, which has been shortlisted for the 2012 Sunday Times Short Story Award. Astray is a sequence of 14 stories by the prize-winning author of Room and The Sealed Letter.
These strange, true tales light up four centuries of wanderings, offering a past made up of deviations and a surprising and moving history for restless times.
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Outstanding and riveting
- Jessica Cowan
Best I've heard in a long time