When you work in a small office in a small harbour town there is nowhere in particular to go at lunch-time on days like today, when the sky is grey and the wind is swirling.
And so I seized the the chance to escape for a little while at my desk, courtesy of a lovely new stand-alone short story: Vacation by Salley Vickers.
I was pulled into the world of a young couple about to go on holiday: Beth and Hamish were heading to the Hebrides where his late father had grown up.
But a spanner was thrown into the works. Hamish’s step-father had died and his mother, Una, had invited herself along for the trip. Beth was not best pleased; she that there had been many times when Hamish had needed his mother and she hadn’t been there.
The two women had very different ideas of what to do on holiday. Very different ideas about most things. So when Hamish was called away, to deal with a crisis at work, he wondered what might happen.
Two women in a small remote cottage.
What would Hamish find on his return … ?
It’s a simple story, but it’s beautifully and carefully observed, the characters are nicely drawn, and the situation they find themselves in is utterly believable.
The dialogue rang true – I could hear the voices in my head – and there was just enough to make the story distinctive without losing its realism.
It was evident the Salley Vickers has a good ear, a sharp eye, and fine judgement.
If only I could have stayed in the Hebrides a little longer. The ending came much too quickly. Though it could just be that I want to start work again.
I don’t usually read digital books – and this story is only available that way – but I decided I could read a short story from my computer screen, just this once.
Because I’ve only read one of Salley Vickers’ novels and, even though I liked it, her others have been sitting on a shelf unread for quite some time. This story was going to tell me whether I should move them up or down my list of reading priorities.
I knew the answer, and the extract from the forthcoming novel, The Cleaner of Chartres, that came as a little bonus confirmed it.
The answer was up!