Sweet Home by Wendy Erskine

Wendy Erskine's new short story collection is a collection of tense, insightful snapshots of life

Book Review by Rebecca Smith | 26 Jun 2019
  • Sweet Home by Wendy Erskine
Book title: Sweet Home
Author: Wendy Erskine

Wendy Erskine’s short story collection Sweet Home is populated with very ordinary people, ordinary actions, the minutia of the everyday that in someone else’s hands may seem dull. In Erskine’s, however, small actions open the door to her characters and, in doing so, become real enough to stay with you for days.

In the quietly humorous Last Supper, a café's future hangs in the balance when staff are caught in a compromising position. There are hints to the troubled back stories of each character but nothing obvious. Its conclusion is a delightful resignation of their situation, which proves very recognisable. In the title story, a middle class couple move to a town in which she, an architect, has designed the community centre. The relationship with their gardener is unusual from the start but a later incident increases tension so palpably the reader will feel as if they are spiralling out of control as much as the characters.

Each story brings something new, an insight into lives that seem completely ordinary, but are shadowed by larger issues that ultimately shape the world and characters. Each re-read delivers new facets of the story, different takes on society, on class, even a new view on your own actions. Erskine has created snapshots of life that forces the reader to see the whole picture. 

Picador, 27 Jun, £12.99