This is an intriguing fictional cocktail ... a series of very short stories based on real life news and historical accounts of various men and women living in times as early as the early 17th c. and as recent as the late 1960s. Emma Donoghue couples the stories with a one or two page historical explanations of what inspired the stories. The book is divided into three sections “Departures”, “In Transit” and “Arrivals and Aftermaths".
In Donoghue's afterword she suggests that many of these stories are inspired by one's separation from one's roots whether that be a homeland or of a loved one. These people are often "astray', somewhat alienated from the people or places they love.
She ends the collection with a heavy-handed piece on two Canadian sculptors Frances Loring and Florence Wyle - in a piece entitled “What Remains"- who
Donoghue is brilliantly inventive, working in a variety of genres (I have yet another Donoghue book on my bookshelf to read); however, I felt this collection felt a bit cobbled together with some superior offerings and some weak ones (almost all had been published in literary journals prior to this). Perhaps it was offered by Donoghue to her publisher in the overwhelming wake of the phenomenal Room to appease readers who wanted another Donoghue fix quickly.