Rural Dreams by Margaret Hickey

‘Venturing into the world outside the city …’

There are eighteen short stories in this anthology, ranging between ten and twenty pages in length. Eighteen different situations, some immediately recognisable if you have spent any time in a rural community. Stories of community, of the importance of nature, of hard work. Stories about the pull between home and here, for some of those who have left and miss the country, stories about escape for those pleased to have moved out (and think they have moved on). Small worlds in some stories (such as A Bit of Scrapbooking), dangerous worlds (The Precipice) and then there is the mother who seems unable to speak without swearing (Mind Your Language).

I enjoy well-written short stories like these. Each story is self-contained, each story had me wanting (but not needing) more. Why? Because the characters became alive, and I wanted to know what they would do next. Ms Hickey captures both what is good about life in rural communities, and what can be stifling when everyone knows your business.

The story that will stay with me is The Precipice. I loved the character in A Bit of Scrapbooking and could totally relate to the character in Glory Days.

I recommend this anthology to anyone who enjoys short stories set in Australia.

Jennifer Cameron-Smith



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