Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Today's Short Story by Nicola Slade

Today's short story is The Tower Room by Nicola Slade. I found the author's website through a comment she left on Elaine's blog quite a while back. I read The Tower Room then, and really enjoyed it. The author had asked readers to write and tell her how they liked it, and I did so. Then more recently, I went back to her page to read another short story, and it wasn't there. I emailed her and asked where it went. Nicola very kindly wrote back and told me it was a website designer problem. Anyhow, now both of them are there, and I plan to read the second one soon. I went back and read The Tower Room again for today's short story. I loved it the first time, and equally so this reading. A nice little touch is a photograph of a "tower room" beside the story so this reader knew exactly what it was.

Emily Martin comes to an assisted living home, Tower House, to look at an accommodation. The only room left is a tower room. The supervisor is surprised at Emily's enthusiastic response to the place.

...for the first time in her life, Emily was in love. The Tower Room had taken the most extraordinary hold on her and she could hardly bear to leave it to go down to the warden's sitting room to discuss terms and conditions.

Emily isn't that interested in bringing her own things, her own personality to the space. She doesn't want to change it.

Even as the reader feels Emily's joy, one is aware of what is really happening. A strong, independent woman has to give up driving because of health concerns, which leads to the sale of her house three miles out of town. It struck a chord with me because I, too, live three miles from the village. When Emily thinks about:

a garden that was too much for her anyway

the words gave me an inner shudder, a touch of anxiety about my own future.

But Emily is exceedingly grateful for her surroundings, the good food, and the pleasant company of the other residents. And she feels so good in her room; unlike anything she has ever experienced before. The first night she dreams of India, which surprises her since she never had any inclination to visit. As she goes about her new daily life, finding her way, she wonders about the surprise and relief others feel about her contentment. She thinks maybe it is because new people often have a difficult time adjusting. All this time, though, she dreams of India.

Why does she dream about India? Why do the dreams make her so happy? Who is the man in the portrait downstairs?

The questions are resolved in a most delightful and interesting way. The author makes Emily come alive for the reader, and her descriptions of both her new home, and India are excellent.

Every night she dreamed of India, sometimes walking in the hills, gazing at the stars over the distant Himalayas; sometimes in a waterfront city, streets full of water buffalo, and mules and the thronging mob of people; sometimes in cool marble courtyards full of the sound and scent of water and birds and jacaranda trees.

The story is six pages long, and is available on Nicola's page. I hope you will take a few minutes to go over and read it. Even if you think you don't care for short stories, I'm quite sure this one will touch your heart.


  1. I'm so glad you enjoyed the story, Nan. It's special to me because it's the only time I sat at my computer with nothing in my head and just sat and wrote. I was surprised, to say the least, when I came to and read the page I had written. Must have been the ghost of the Tower Room talking to me!
    This has happened once or twice whie writing the novels but never before or since with a short story.

  2. Thank you so much for coming by and telling your story, Nicola. I just loved it. Being able to write is such a magical thing.

  3. Ooh I loved these two stories. thanks for tipping me off about them Nan. I am sure Mrs Bale would like them too....

  4. I've not read enough epistolary fiction so a short story that uses that form might be a good sampler.

  5. John, both Nicola's online stories are wonderful.


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