Soul Etchings by Sandra Arnold – 2019

Soul etchingsI love short short story collections and Soul etchings is a superb example.  A collection of evocative snippets, about loss, grief, missed opportunities, women stuck in mis-matched relationships, misunderstood children, murder and over-obsessive inanimate objects.

When I reviewed another short story collection: Frankie McMillan’s My mother and the Hungarians, I wrote “The stories work like magic; your brain telling you a story based on snippets” and it is the same with Soul etchings.  There are 57 stories, all complete, but as you read them there are links and connections: The child full of wonder who is denied her experiences, the loss of a child through cancer, the missed opportunities to connect with those who have passed on, the unfair father, the fathers who want sons and not daughters.

One of my favourites in the collection was The day of the horse, with its lovely, but tragic, twist, on “crying wolf”, with the hearer at fault not the messenger.  Soul etchings is a collection embedded in our time, with our difficulties with connection, the solitary carrying of burdens, the attraction of the artificial rather than the natural, and the failure to see hope and wonder around us.  It is full of those brief moments that are etched onto our souls and which impact the rest of our lives.  It is both confronting:

“Until the day Briony came home from school and found her father dead in the kitchen she hadn’t paid much attention to detail”

And evocative:

“She wrote in shafts of sunlight striking the scrubbed white wood of the old kitchen table.  Head bent over her book, words streaming from head to hand to pen to paper”

I devoured this collection and highly recommend it.





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