© Caroline Davidson 2018 

Short stories

The Woman Who Gave Birth to Rabbits

Emma Donoghue

Virago

June 2002

 

'And if who can tell what's true and what's not true in these times, Mary, why then might not this rabbit story be as true as anything else?'

This book of fictions that are also true is named for Mary Toft, who, in 1726, managed to convince half of England that she'd given birth to rabbits.

 

Donoghue finds her inspiration for these wry, robust tales in obscure scraps of historical records: an engraving of a woman giving birth to rabbits; a plague ballad; surgical case notes; theological pamphlets; an articulated skeleton. Here kings, surgeons, soldiers, and ladies of leisure rub shoulders with cross-dressers, cult leaders, poisoners, and arsonists.

Kissing the Witch

Emma Donoghue

Penguin

May 1997

Thirteen tales are unspun from the deeply familiar, and woven anew into a collection of fairy tales that wind back through time. Emma Donoghue reveals heroines young and old in unexpected alliances - sometimes treacherous, sometimes erotic, but always courageous.

 

Cinderella forsakes the handsome prince and runs off with the fairy godmother; Beauty discovers the Beast behind the mask is not so very different from the face she sees in the mirror; Snow White is awakened from slumber by the bittersweet fruit of an unnamed desire.

 

Using the intricate patterns and oral rhythms of traditional fairy tales, Emma Donoghue wraps age-old characters in a dazzling new skin.

Astray

Emma Donoghue

Macmillan

October 2012

Counter­feiter. Dishwasher. Prostitute. Attorney. Sculptor. Mercenary. Elephant. Corpse.

The fascinating characters that roam across the pages of Emma Donoghue’s latest fact-inspired fictions have all gone astray: they are emigrants, runaways, drifters. They cross other borders, too: those of race, law, sex and sanity. They travel for love or money, incognito or under duress.

 

Donoghue describes the brutal plot hatched by a slave in conjunction with his master’s wife to set them both free; she draws out the diffi­culties of gold mining in the Yukon, even in the supposedly plentiful early days, and she takes us to an early Puritan community in Massachusetts unsettled by an invented sex scandal.