#BookReview: Peace and other stories

Click on the image to purchase Peace and other stories on Amazon.

Peace and other stories is the debut short story collection of Meryl P. Moorhouse, a writer and blogger who grew up in Wales and currently resides in Yorkshire. I discovered Moorhouse’s writing through her blog, Childhood Memories of Growing up in the 1950s and 1960s. As a fellow Baby Boomer, of course I was interested. I’ve particularly enjoyed learning about the similarities and differences between growing up in the US at that time and growing up in Great Britain.

Moorhouse’s blog is engaging and thought-provoking, so when she announced that she’d just published a book of short stories, I had to buy it! I’m glad I did because of the people I met in this slim volume of thirteen stories. Some of the people were kind, others judgmental, still others broken because of the secrets they carried. All of the characters were living, breathing people brought to life in vivid detail on the page: John Jones, the train station master at Llanbwthyn Station in Mid-Wales; Hannah Wilde, an elderly woman whose house is full of teddy bears; and Beth, a young woman volunteering at a homeless shelter longing to find the father who abandoned her years before.

Moorhouse is particularly good at first lines, which I always appreciate. Here are a few of my favorites from the collection:

From “Painted Lady”: “Phyllis arrived at the Nightingale Resthome in a flurry of fur, jewelry, perfume, and lipstick.”

From “Crown Jewels”: “The Crown was one of those pubs which was usually described by what it wasn’t and what it didn’t have, rather than what it was and had.”

From “Desmond”: “Desmond shambled along the footpath carrying two full buckets of feed; grain in one hand and grass clippings in the other.”

I also appreciated the stories that were resolved with a surprise ending characteristic of O. Henry’s stories. While these stories ended with a twist, the surprise endings were nonetheless believable and not the result of coincidence manufactured off-stage by the author.

The standout of the collection for me was the title story, “Peace,” set ten years after the end of World War II. John Jones is one of the most likable characters I’ve encountered in fiction in a very long time. I was drawn to how much he appreciates the life he has, seeing trains safely through the station and tending to his plants, his beloved roses in particular. The conflict in the story arises when John encounters a man on a bridge who should not be there.

Peace and other stories was altogether a very enjoyable read! I hope you enjoy these photographs Meryl provided to accompany this post.

The Viaduct in Rural Wales Near the Train Station in the Title Story “Peace”
The Valley in Rural Wales Where the Author Grew Up, Setting for the Title Story “Peace.”
Abbotsbury Swannery in Dorset, the inspiration for “Desmond.”

83 thoughts on “#BookReview: Peace and other stories

    1. Yes, that’s a good way to describe reading the book, as spending time with a friend. I was very taken with the cover as well, and the stories lived up to it. I was thrilled with the photographs that Meryl sent for me to share with readers of my blog. I’m glad you enjoyed them, too.

      Liked by 2 people

  1. I am always amused by the stories written about a particular period. I always wonder what must life have been like back then. Since you mentioned that these are stories from life in the 1950s, I’m intrigued. I almost form an image of those times and sometimes imagine myself as one of the characters too!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I know exactly what you mean about stories written about a particular time period prompting my own imaginings of what it would be life for me to enter the world of the story. In fact, recently, I’ve been writing most of my stories set in the past.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I admire writers who can write short stories. Concise, making every word count to tell a complex narrative and develop whole characters in a few pages. It is not for the faint of heart. Thank you for the introduction, Liz. Love those first lines! Brilliant.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Oh! “The Gift of the Magi” was my dad’s favorite short story. (He was a big O. Henry fan.) I still remember how excited he was to read it to me for the first time when I was a child. I also think the picture of the viaduct is stunning.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Hey Liz,

    You sound rather taken, if not enchanted with the book and delighted by the stories.

    Wales exudes a certain charm, especially the rural areas, which remain forever green and incredibly scenic, as depicted in the second photograph. Having visited the author’s blog she mentions Brecon was where her family home was located. It is a small market-town, archaically known as Brecknock, nestled on the northern edge of the Brecon Beacons National Park in the county of Powys (mid-Wales.)

    I may be wrong, and apologise if I am, but I think the photograph of the train viaduct is Cynghordy Viaduct, which is situated near Llandovery in the county of Carmarthenshire on the eastern edge of the Brecon Beacons National Park.

    Should you ever visit Wales, be sure to include the Brecon Beacons on your itinerary. A stout pair of walking boots are a must.

    Enjoy the latter part of the week.


    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you for stopping by and commenting, Dewin! I don’t know if I will ever make it to Wales. For the time being, I’m contenting myself with experiencing Great Britain through the eyes of bloggers who live there. I hope you have a good rest of the week as well.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hey Liz,

        I thought information appertaining to the stories would help to place them into a geographical context and give them depth, which can only add to their intrinsic charm.

        I love to armchair travel, but it is no replacement for actually being there. There are places in Wales so peaceful, so beautiful, one can almost hear the angels sing.

        Thanks Liz. Have a great weekend.


        Liked by 2 people

          1. I know how thorough you like to be with your research Liz 🙂 The history of Wales stretches back into the mists of time: it is an ancient place, steeped in fable, myth and legend.

            Never say never Liz, one day you might visit and enjoy its splendour. Put it on your ‘bucket list’ along with all the other fantabulous places planet Earth has to offer.

            Until next time,


            Liked by 1 person

              1. There are between 37,500,000 and 75,000,000 WP blog-sites to visit, so there are potentially plenty of wonders to read about!

                No doubt Cindy will have some photographs/visuals for you to enjoy alongside her text. Out of curiosity, according to Wiki, the name Manitoba ‘is believed to be derived from the Cree, Ojibwe or Assiniboine languages. The name derives from Cree manitou-wapow or Ojibwa manidoobaa, both meaning “straits of Manitou, the Great Spirit”, a place referring to what are now called The Narrows in the centre of Lake Manitoba.’ Interesting.

                Enjoy the remainder of your weekend Liz.


                Liked by 1 person

    2. Correct! I grew up in the tiny village of Cynghordy, near the town of Llandovery. I was born in Brecon. The station master Liz refers to in the story Peace was our station master at Cynghordy Station – renamed but otherwise described just as he was in life. Meryl

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Hey Meryl,

        Ah wonderful! Thank you for confirming my suggestion. I’m not widely travelled in Wales but have passed this viaduct on a couple of occasions en route to Llandovery and beyond into Carmarthenshire. The Beacons are a spectacular winsome wilderness.

        They say that fiction often draws from the well of real life: I imagine you’ve very fond memories of your early years, and although change has inevitably occurred in the interim period, I’ve hope time spent in Brecon and Cynghordy have left an unalterable, idyllic, impression on you.

        Thank you Meryl. Have a pleasant evening.


        Liked by 2 people

  4. As a fellow Baby Boomer and a lover of both Wales and Yorkshire (two of my favorite places on earth), I’m eager to check out the blog and the book. Thanks for putting us onto this writer worth reading, Liz; and the gorgeous photos remind me of reasons I adore that part of the world so much!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Sounds like a good book.
    I’ve also had a look at Moorhouse’s blog….and am now following her posts. Having been born at the end of the 1950’s and enjoying my childhood in the 1960’s I find it very interesting reading. Brings back a lot of memories.
    Many thanks

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I spent a semester in Cambridge, England, when I was a college student. So many of the places I visited were beautiful. The lush greenery, as one blogger posted of Wales, is so true. I fell in love with England, and it was hard to say goodbye when the semester ended. I celebrated my 21st birthday there, and so much time has elapsed since then. I would love to return. These stories do sound enchanting, reflective of the mood and place I remember. The first lines of the stories are great! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Liz, I am overwhelmed by the amazing write-up you have given my humble little book! I haven’t replied sooner as I’ve been lost for words. I knew you were going to refer to it in your blog and use the photos you asked me for but I never expected such a detailed, positive and complimentary review. I am now going to read through the comments others have posted. Thank you so much! Meryl

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Excellent first lines indeed. 🙂
    Now the two buckets. Do you know why the grass clippings? I assume it was for horses. My Irish horse master once taught me how to mix dry grass clippings into the grain to force the horses to chew. She said: “The grass clippings sting the horses’ tongue and mouth so they have to chew and eat slowly. Otherwise they will stuff themselves in no time.”
    Have a nice week-end Liz

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The story is set in a swannery, so the two buckets contain feed for the swans. Apparently, the grass clippings contain nutrients needed for breeding swans and their young. Before reading the story, I’d never heard of a swannery. That’s interesting information about why grass clippings are fed to horses.

      I plan to have a nice weekend, and I hope you will as well!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Swannery? me neither. Shows how on should not jump to conclusions. 🙂 The memory just came back to me in a flash. I thought then and now, it was a smart thing to do with horses.
        May your plans come true. (And thank you)

        Liked by 1 person

  9. A lovely review, Liz, and I can see what you mean about those first lines. They paint a picture and invite the reader in for more. Beautiful photos to accompany the post. Thanks for the introduction to Meryl and her short stories. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  10. A great story is made up of characters that impact the reader emtionally. From what I have read here, Meryl has achieved this with a high degree of excellence. Thank you for sharing a bit about Meryl and her writing,!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your thoughtful comment, Mark! I enjoyed sharing a bit about Meryl and her writing. Her latest blog post is about living (and thriving!) in the days before cell phones, which those of us of a certain age remember very well.

      Liked by 1 person

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