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Paperback review: Diving Belles, By Lucy Wood


Lucy Wood's beguiling debut collection is set along the coastlines of her native Cornwall, and draws on a rich Cornish tradition of myth and folklore. In these tales, children play among the bleached bones of giants; young women are transformed into standing stones on clifftops; ageing pensioners plunge beneath the waves to search for spouses lost at sea.

The risk with this sort of fantastical writing is that it comes across as too misty and ethereal, but Wood cleverly anchors her stories in a banal – and very English – quotidian reality. The finest piece, "Blue Moon", is set in a nursing home for witches, in which the residents store their potions in old bottles of HP sauce, and the amiable staff take time out from their admin duties to corral the familiars.