Happy afternoon Blogmas friends and welcome back to another post on the Short Story Advent Calendar.

Day twelve and I’ve finally found a happy medium between reading the stories and writing up reviews. Usually I give myself a few hours to really let what I’ve read sink in, but to the theme of short stories I have just decided to go with my first instinct on a story and not ask questions later.

What did I think of the short story for day twelve? Keep on reading to find out my thoughts and opinions.

DAY 12: 

Souterrain by Maggie Shipstead

First Appeared: Guernica (December 1, 2015)

Print Length: 28 pages

The Review

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you know of my apprehension towards dual timelines. I don’t know what it is but very rarely have I read a book with this structure and thought it worked in the narratives favour. And yet, Shipstead is able to use dual timelines to her advantage in Souterrain.

Souterrain follows the lives of three main characters, Pierre Maillard, Lili Harmou, and Iris Maillard, as they navigate life and death in the streets of Paris. For Pierre it’s dying of a stroke, for Iris it’s what comes with an inheritance, and for Lili, it’s life being full of secrets.

Each of the characters and their various lives were interesting to read about. Pierre, as he is dying of a stroke, remembers how his life has been equal parts good and bad. Being blind didn’t make the character’s life easy, but Pierre chooses to help others instead of moping about what he cannot fix about himself. Of course, with Pierre’s portion of the story being mostly set during the Nazi occupation of France I was more invested with him than with the other two.

I also rather enjoyed Shipstead’s descriptions of the catacombs. I was able to visit the Catacombs of Paris in 2015 and was definitely transported back to my Parisian adventure when I read Souterrain.

Overall Rating: 4 out of 5 stars. 

_ _ _

Purchase Links for Short Story Advent Calendar

Hingston and Olsen 


One Comment

  1. midnightamythest

    I really enjoyed the narrative of this story. It flowed really well despite the jumping timelines, I found myself really engaged, wondering what secrets and motivations were going to be revealed (as the endings are given at the beginning).
    It makes you realize how letting a child believe something they whole heartedly think is true (but actually isn’t), can actually be a detriment to them.
    I kind of wish that at least Lili’s ending wasn’t revealed at the beginning, I feel like it would have held more weight to be at the end. But then again maybe not, because then the story wouldn’t have been about revealing the ‘why’.
    Overall it was a great story.
    4.5 stars.


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