FOR REVIEWS AND COMMENTS PLEASE SEE PLAYS
USED TO BE (STORIES):
'Baines reminds me of a scratch DJ, taking a conventional format and messing with it, expertly,
to give the audience a whole new experience... Highly readable, thought-provoking
and with beautiful use of language, this collection is a rich and unexpected delight' - J J Marsh, Bookmuse.
'How much of our lives do we imagine? Dream? Is everything a fiction, an expedience? Ultimately these are questions
that are posited by Baines' writing... It is not at all easy to ask big questions in this most difficult of writing forms, the short
story, and using such lucid and poetic prose as the author uses here' - Frances Spurrier, Wales Arts Review. Whole review
'It'll blow you away when you least expect it' - Charlie Pace. Read the whole review
'A collection packed with bursts of intense short stories, written in clean, sharp prose. The stories are immersive and gripping.
I read this book in one sitting' - Hannah Stevens. Read the whole review
'I loved this collection, and I am excited to read even more by Elizabeth Baines in the future. Her writing style is strong and
refreshingly different... A real pleasure to read' - Katie Lumsden. Read whole review
'A tremendous collection of stories. They do not seek to be didactic, but may nonetheless give many of us who read them
cause to reflect on the choices we have made in our own lives, and to be more mindful of the options which open in front of us
every day' - Cath Barton, The Short Review. Whole review
'Niftily overturning apparent certainties, often in a series of small revelations and delivering the occasional killer punch
... thoughtful collection' - A Life in Books. Whole review
'A really great collection that you will enjoy, identify with, wish that worm hadn't got into your head - and each of these in
equal measure.' - Our Book Reviews Online. Whole review
'The writing is is vivid, buoyant, incisive ... vibrant evocation of time and place - and the power of the human mind to transcend
both' - Emma Bosworth, Confingo
'An enjoyable collection of well-chosen stories with a fascinating linking theme. Recommended' - Helen Walters. Whole review
COMMENTS ON SOME OF THE INDIVIDUAL STORIES:
'Used to Be':
'A self-reflexive treat whose enigmatic holding pattern makes beautiful sense by story's end' - Rio Lang.
'That Turbulent Stillness':
'A boy-meets-girl story that boils with menacing violence, mirroring the love of that other
star-crossed duo, Catherine and H' - Elaine Chiew
'Movingly written, with strong characterisation. It has a lovely narrative voice' - Katie Lumsden.
'Poignant, funny and thought-provoking' - Deborah Grace.
'Looking for the Castle':
'I loved the prose ... it's just perfectly written' - Aiden O'Reilly
'Notable for its refreshing economy - nothing's overexplained here' - Valerie O'Riorden,
'Clarrie and You':
'Baines' deft touch and acutely observed detail of family relationships make it a story with layers waiting
to be undone... The story offers new subtleties with every read' - Sarah Schofield, The Short Review.
'A very clever story' - Helen Walters. Whole review
'The Choice Chamber':
'A woman is in the kitchen, chatting with her two teenage sons. She thinks back
to her younger self, a young woman who had no desire for any of this: family, farmhouse kitchen in the suburbs,
settling down. A common enough theme, perhaps, but this story has a killer final line' - Scott Pack
'Particularly resonated' - Helen Walters. Whole review
'Tides, or How Stories Do or Don't Get Told':
'I bloody love this. Part life story, part love story, part memoir, part exploration
of the nature of stories. Brilliant. Brilliant.' - Dan Powell
'I love Elizabeth Baines' "Tides, or How Stories Do or Don't Get Told" ... it's clever ... But it's also just a beautiful, moving story ...
It's brilliant.' - Katie Lumsden
'A thoughtful story' - Charles May. Whole review
' It's like the stage magician who explains how a trick works only to surprise the audience later' - Tim Love.
TOO MANY MAGPIES (NOVEL):
REVIEWS AND COMMENTS
and compelling' - Sarah Salway
very clever indeed and finally, very moving too' - Adele
Geras. Full review here
(scroll down to Books)
plotted and with not a word wasted, Too Many Magpies is an appealing,
bewitching read, one that feels slightly dangerous and a little
bit thrilling. It deals with predictable subjects in unpredictable
ways, and for that reason alone it marks Baines as a British writer
to watch. Highly recommended.' - Reading Matters blog.
Whole review here.
'This slim book holds such depth and human truth that it's unnerving. I've read Too Many Magpies several times since June
because I'm bowled over ... makes every other book I've read recently wither into insignificance ... quite simply a stunning read and one
of the most accomplished pieces of work I've read in the last few years' -
Rachel Smart, Amazon review
'A fantastic achievement from a fresh, noteworthy talent' - Book
read most of this book in one sitting as I could not drag myself
away from its eerie storytelling... An accomplished, thoughtful
novel that offers us a strange new lens with which to view the
world' - Lisa
Glass, Vulpes Libris
knack of repeatedly picking up moments of life that only while
reading you realise you haven’t seen in a novel before but
that are true and needed telling. The book freezes our times for
future generations in a way that the mammoth, multi-layered uber-novels
of Franzens, Safran Foers and Mitchells can only dream of... It
is a great book.' - Benjamin
powerful and emotional journey for the reader and one that makes
this book an easy one to recommend' - William
with ideas and surprises and humanity. It is touching and the
emotional life of the narrator lingers in the memory long after
the final sentences have faded. Highly recommended.' - John
style that keeps me turning the pages ... sustained menace' -
and unsettling. The prose is spartan, but powerful... Despite
its physical brevity, Too Many Magpies poses huge questions about
life today' -
devoured this book in one sitting: I am a quick reader, but when
a book grabs one's attention the way that Too Many Magpies does,
I find it extremely hard to put it down.This book was amazing...'
is a book that made me hold my breath. Baines' gift is to do the
literary equivalent of revealing what is on the inside of trouser
pockets during laundry, ordinary and sacred things otherwise hidden
are carefully revealed... What I found extraordinary as reader
and writer was Elzabeth Baine’s ability to convey so skillfully
and lightly the nuances of relationships and communication...
As a reader it was the kind of book I have longed to read, as
a writer, it is the kind of book I would dream of writing.' -
'Precise language and graceful use of time... Glitters with
meanings' - Judith Amanthis, Morning Star
simple, a beautifully crafted novel in which every word seems
to have multiple layers of meaning' - Debi
'Like her short story collection this is a beautifully-written
book' - Jim
wonderful conceit ... full of really wonderful imagery and a sense
of magic and science as equally mysterious forces in our lives'
Michalski, JMWW magazine
Many Magpies is a fantastic short novel, full of mystery, humanity
and depth. It is extraordinarily well written - in beautiful prose
- and the question at the heart of it kept me hooked till the
end. Very enjoyable and highly recommended... Baines deserves
a wide readership & critical acclaim' - Caitlin G
really very good read. I'm not a voracious reader so for me to
have read this book quickly is the best compliment I can pay.
Elizabeth makes a convincing rope from the fears of modern life
from an original perspective but as a side note the interweaving
strands of gardening references and particularly the authenticity
of the joy of driving and descriptions of open roads and freedom
hooked me in ... Great book.' - Peadar O'Donoghue
Many Magpies is an incredibly thoughtful novel and as such will
appeal as much to the mind of the reader as to the heart. I definitely
recommend it as a book to lose yourself in' - Helen Hunt,
finished Too Many Magpies in three bedtime reads (something I
rarely do!). Mesmerised from start to finish. As a reader I identified
with it to a (sometimes) uncomfortable degree - loved the prose
and the way the elements and characters were mirrored/entwined.
A unique experience, seldom read anything by a UK writer that
has had so marked an effect!' - Dot Seven, Amazon
BALANCINGON THE EDGE OF
THE WORLD (STORIES): REVIEWS
swept me off my feet ... Nothing would have induced me to interrupt
Balancing on the Edge of the World by Elizabeth Baines until
I'd read them all'
- Dovegreyreader. Read a review by Dovegreyreader
of those books I had to force myself to put down just so the
of reading it wouldn't end.' - Tania Hershman
of the best short story collections I have ever read' - Jamieson
short stories' - Sally Zigmond. Read whole
makes Elizabeth Baines' collection so brilliant ... is that
she perfectly plays
with both the page-turning quality of novel's fiction, and a
crafted beauty you
usually only associate with verse... They're funny, and moving,
and thoughtful -
but above all, they're short stories which celebrate how beguiling
can be. Read and be enchanted.' - Rob Shearman,
author World Fantasy Award
winning collection Tiny Deaths. Read the full review here.
is storytelling for the 21st century' - Jim Murdoch.
Whole review here.
story is meticulously crafted, and I loved how the stories are
such a compact grace... There is an emotional honesty to them
that is really
raw and intense, and I found them very affecting' - Shelf
Life blog. Read the
whole review here.
original prose underpins all the stories and the central motif,
This is a stunning debut collection by a writer whose prose
characters and themes with a keen sense of literary drama'
- Melissa Lee-Houghton, The Short Review. Full
terrific collection - luminous, witty and wise' - Livi
story strikes to the heart' - Sue
'Perfect collection' - Whichbook
is the real deal' - Matt Bell on one of the stories
in the book,
'Daniel Smith Disappears off the Face of the Earth'. Full appreciation
this great sense of delight in words, in expression, that lends
to even the most traditional piece here. It feels rather like
her characters are
really glad to just be able to tell you about their lives, even
when those lives
are not necessarily much fun. The overall effect is like walking
down the street
and seeing people in their living room who have forgotten that
can see in, except this time you can hear them, too.' - Bookmunch
Read whole review here.
Baines' specialty is unpacking relationships ...[She is] wincingly
about the creative process and 'The Shooting Script' ought to
be required reading
for anyone who fancies themselves writing for television. She's
both lyrical and
clear-sighted when she looks at the world through a child's eyes...
Enormous aplomb ...Very well-written' - Adele Geras.
Full review here.
very high standard of writing indeed and I enjoyed it very much...
I'd definitely read more Baines' - Anne Brooke. Full review here
'Elizabeth Baines is a superb stylist - a latter-day fabulist
in fact -
and her writing reminded me of Chekhov's in that it was spare
paid attention to the subtleties of everyday experience.' - Clare
'These stories tell you more about who we are and how we live
than a dozen big fat novels. If you like short stories, you should certainly get a copy of this book. If you think you don't like
short stories, you should get two - one to surprise yourself with and one to give to someone else!' - Charles Lambert.
collection... She finds and plucks out important and remarkable
moments from the otherwise ordinary. It is quite a skill.' - Scott
description of a mugging that manages to be both beautiful and
one of those perfect pieces of short fiction that sticks with
you and makes you
see the next puddle you walk past differently' - Katie Rathfelder
on 'Daniel Smith
Disappears off the Face of the Earth', Bookmunch.
See full review of the collection here.
books are just right, they feel right, and when you read them
it's almost as though they're singing to you. And Balancing on
the Edge of the World is just one of those' - Nik
characterisations are particularly vivid, ranging from comic to
tragic but always retaining their believability' - Claire
Marriott on Bookersatz. Full review
was amazed how Baines handles a moment, that moment, when a young
man’s world changes forever' - The Biblio Blogazine
on the story 'Daniel Smith Disappears Off the Face of the Earth'.
For full review of collection see here.
Dovegreyreader's comments on the story 'Power'
impressive ... charts the fortunes of three generations in as
many pages without any sense of strain or thinness' - Punch
Magazine on one of the stories, 'Leaf Memory'.
BIRTH MACHINE (NOVEL):
REVIEWS AND COMMENTS
Reviews of the new edition:
rather brilliant, deep, dark and moving' - Steve Waling
damn good read. It’s a cliché to say this is a must-read,
but still, I’m going to urge you all to read it. And I’m
talking to you, too, boys: it might have a lot of fairy-tale aspects
and it’s undeniably about pregnancy and labour, but it’s
got science, too! Seriously. Salt’s done the public a service
in bringing this one back. It’s a rock-hard satire and a
very, very, very good read. So, you know, read it.' - Valerie
O'Riordan on Bookmunch. Full review here.
was in awe of the masterful examination of polite cowardice and
of the barriers constructed to prevent women from asking questions
about their own bodies.
...just like Elizabeth Baines’s other recent novel Too Many
Magpies, The Birth Machine leaves an indelible mark on its reader.'
- Lisa Glass, Vulpes Libris. Full review here.
disturbing and thought-provoking meditation on power, control
and the uncertain language of logic' - Carys Bray.
Full review here.
takes the reader into a world of vivid detail and thought-provoking
imagery... I highly recommend this novel both for the intelligent
handling of the themes and the pleasure of the reading experience.'
- Helen Hunt on Bookersatz. Full review here.
enjoyed this book very much.' 'An eye-opener that men should read
too' - Jim Murdoch. Read a review by Jim Murdoch
absorbing novel. I found it very hard to put down and read it
in only three sittings, but I am sure I will return to it time
and time again' - Angela Topping, Amazon review.
Read the whole review here.
found this book completely absorbing and read it far too late
into the night.
I don't see it as a polemic about hi-tech childbirth, but rather
a nightmarish parable about power and secrets ... Baines makes
subtle points about intimacy and betrayal... An intriguing back
mystery kept me guessing and unsettled to the end. An excellent
and unusual story. Highly recommended.' - Amazon
but compelling ... it all comes together in a coherent and powerful
way ... I was gripped, especially by the childhood scenes... For
me what impressed most was the language, well observed and precise.'
- Alan Beard, Goodreads. Full review here.
is a short book that needs time and thought; not only to grasp
the real behind the satire but also to appreciate the amazing
talent that this author has to give you thoughts and feelings
without telling you what to think or feel. ...if you want to know
how to write well, this book is for you.' - Rachel
written' - Womagwriter
recommended' - Claire King.
reviews of the first edition:
birth myth of our age' - IN DUBLIN
'A gripping story, a pithy book' - Katy Campbell
'An increasingly powerful narrative... Sharp satire - TIMES LITERARY
of The Birth Machine can be found in the following publications:
Contemporary Women's Fiction and the Fantastic by Lucy Armitt
Feminism After Postmodernism by Marysia Zalewski (Routledge, 2000)
Reproducing the Womb by Alice E Adams (Cornell University Press,
Women Writing Childbirth by Tess Cosslett (Manchester University
The Witch in History by Diane Purkiss (Routledge, 1996)
Lost in Space - Probing Feminist Science Fiction & Beyond
by Marleen S Barr, The University of North Carolina Press, 1993