Unaccustomed to Grace by Lesley Bannatyne: Book review for the book tour organised by Random Things Tours!
Unaccustomed to Grace by Lesley Bannatyne
Unaccustomed to Grace is a collection of short stories by Lesley Bannatyne. It published earlier this year in February by Kallisto Gaia Press! At 172 pages, it’s a short read, but with each word carefully chosen you don’t feel like you’re missing anything!
Before we get into my review, I want to thank Anne from Random Things Tours for the chance to take part in this tour! Random Things Tours is one of my favourite book tour companies, mostly because Anne always puts forward some really great reads!
Unaccustomed to Grace is a collection of short stories, each with a different character. When I first started reading the book it was hard for me to see how the title, Unaccustomed to Grace, tied into the stories. After a while, that became clearer.
The characters in the book read as people who have things done to them, instead of taking action themselves, whether they are parents, a pregnant teen, a nurse trying to make friends, or the teenage boy breaking into a house with his buddy. I thought that a moment of action defined these characters, but stories like Corpse walks into a bar, Gravity, Waiting for Ivy, On Tuesday I will kill him, Summerland, and The boy in the boat all make it clear that while the art of letting go, contrary to whatever Elizabeth Bishop says, is fairly hard to master, but it’s only in its practice that these characters can achieve, not peace, but a moment of grace.
While Lesley Bannatyne is known as the ‘Queen of Halloween’, that doesn’t play a huge role in the book. However, it’s easy to think we’ll get something more centred on that day when the opening story is Corpse Walks into a Bar. Despite the presence of the darker side of human nature, I feel as though the characters in these stories, as complicated as they are in their own ways, are fundamentally good. And it’s this assumption of goodness, of grace, that Lesley Bannatyne wants you to take home.
Blurb for Unaccustomed to Grace
Unaccustomed to Grace is a collection of short stories where the unlikely outcome for irresponsible acts and unfortunate events result in redemption. Bannatyne’s mastery of the written word informs these stories of common conflict with a brilliantine magic rarely found in contemporary literature. From the unlikely romance between a zoo employee and a spiritualist/activist to the redemption of a grandmother’s long-rehearsed vengeance, these heart-warming stories are the contemporary fables we need in these stressful days.
About Lesley Bannatyne
Lesley Bannatyne is an American author who writes extensively on Halloween, especially its history, literature, and contemporary celebration. She also writes short stories, many of which are included in this debut collection Unaccustomed to Grace (Kallisto Gaia Press, 2022). Her work has been published in the Boston Globe, Smithsonian, Christian Science Monitor, and Zone 3, Pangyrus, Shooter, Craft, Ocotillo Review, Fish, and Bosque Literary Magazines. She won the 2018 Bosque fiction prize and received the 2019 Tucson Festival of Books Literary Award for fiction, the 2020 Ghoststory.com fiction prize, and was a finalist for many others, including the Tennessee William Literary Festival Writing Award, the Carve Prose & Poetry Contest, and the Hudson Prize. As a freelance journalist, she has covered stories ranging from druids in Massachusetts to relief workers in Bolivia. Lesley is a graduate of Wheaton College (MA) and holds an ALM from Harvard University Extension Studies. She lives and works in Somerville, Massachusetts.