listen along with me?
The third shortlisted story is Broderie Anglaise by Frances Leviston. The story is narrated by a young woman who intends to make her own dress in order to attend a family wedding. But the enterprise reveals tensions between her and her mother. You can listen here.
I didn't think the premise of this story sounded promising. Dress-making and kitchen sink dramas don't capture my imagination. But I really liked this. The voice of the narrator was brilliantly-written and the other characters so perfectly-drawn it was impossible not to feel I was listening in to a slice of real life. Although it isn't a comedy, the sharp writing of Frances Leviston and excellent performance of Kate O'Flynn brought some moments of humour that seems to be quite rare among literary short stories.
I enjoyed the straight-forward story-telling - a story that started somewhere and built chronologically towards a specific moment in time. However, I was a bit taken aback by the suddenness of the ending. The story was, of course, less about actually making a dress for a wedding, and more about how it revealed the nature of the relationship between the main character and her mother. Therefore the ending wasn't unsatisfactory as such, I just felt it could've tied up a few more loose ends. I know that's not how literary fiction usually works, but I often feel the same way about other highly-acclaimed short stories - as if I'm missing something somewhere. Perhaps I'm not high-brow enough and that level of subtlety is just wasted on me! Anyway, I found this story highly-enjoyable regardless - probably my favourite so far.