- Pro Review
- Discovery Awards
THE TOPOGRAPHY OF HIDDEN STORIES
By Julia MacDonnell
THE TOPOGRAPHY OF HIDDEN STORIES is a collection of eleven short stories written by Julia MacDonnell. This anthology has a “honed feminist edge” and all of the stories are female-centric, with main characters who take on roles as mothers, daughters, sisters, and aunts. The relationships between women form the backbone of the book and are a source of strife, comfort, shame, and strength for the characters that MacDonnell has created. Her depictions of women and their female relations are complex and well thought out and her writing perfectly depicts “the mysterious eternal conflict” between children and their parents, showcasing the tangled, complicated nature of human relationships. MacDonnell’s writing style is pleasantly unique, with a descriptive, gauzy feeling that is well-suited to the introspective nature of her stories. Her use of simile and metaphor to create tone and mood is masterful and the imagery she creates is opulent yet often uncomfortable, encapsulating the feeling of looking back on memories (both good and bad) with a mixture of nostalgia, grief, anger, love, and confusion. Her stories are often painful, but in a sweet, aching way that makes them cathartic to read.
The highlight of THE TOPOGRAPHY OF HIDDEN STORIES is MacDonnell’s ability to capture the complexity of her characters. She has a talent for putting the essence of a person onto a page, describing a father who “swelled and quivered anytime he had an audience”, an aunt who was “there-but-not-there” after undergoing electric shock treatments, and a mother whose “heart and brain occupied separate territories” after the death of a neighbor. MacDonnell can cut to the quick of a character with a single sentence, or she can stretch her exploration through an entire story; she’s equally adept at both. There’s an element of yearning to MacDonnell’s writing that makes her stories utterly entrancing and the characters, conflicts, and relationships that she’s crafted are deeply insightful.
Julia MacDonnell uses her rich writing style to highlight her understanding of characterization and the complex nature of human relationships in every story featured in THE TOPOGRAPHY OF HIDDEN STORIES, a collection that will delight any reader who approaches life from a feminist perspective.
~Stephani Hren for IndieReader