Tuesday 18 October 2022

Alison Moore, "Eastmouth and Other Stories"

Alison Moore, photograph by Beth Walsh photography

Alison Moore’s short stories have been included in Best British Short Stories and Best British Horror and broadcast on BBC Radio. They have been collected in The Pre-War House and Other Stories, whose title story won the New Writer Novella Prize, and in Eastmouth and Other Stories. Her debut novel, The Lighthouse, was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize and the National Book Awards, winning the McKitterick Prize. She recently published her fifth novel, The Retreat, and a trilogy for children, beginning with Sunny and the Ghosts. Her website is here.

About Eastmouth and Other Stories, by Alison Moore

Alison Moore’s debut collection, The Pre-War House and Other Stories, gathered together stories written prior to the publication of her first novel. Eastmouth and Other Stories is her second collection, featuring stories from the subsequent decade, including stories first published in Shadows and Tall Trees, The Spectral Book of Horror Stories, The Shadow Booth, and elsewhere, as well as new, unpublished work.

You can see more about Eastmouth and Other Stories on the publisher's website here. Below, you can read an excerpt from the title story. 

From Eastmouth and Other Stories


Sonia stands on the slabs of the promenade, looking out across the pebbly beach. It is like so many of the seaside resorts from her childhood. She remembers one whose tarred pebbles left their sticky blackness on her bare feet and legs and the seat of her swimsuit. She had to be scrubbed red raw in the bath at the B&B. Her hands are wrapped around the railings, whose old paint is flaking off. When she lets go, her palms will smell of rust.

The visibility is poor. She can’t see land beyond Eastmouth.

‘I’ve missed the sound of the gulls,’ says Peter, watching them circling overhead.

He says this, thinks Sonia, as if he has not heard them for years, but during the time they’ve been at university, he got the train home most weekends. Sonia does not think she would have missed the gulls. She is used to the Midlands and to city life.

She lets go of the railings and they walk on down the promenade. Sonia, in a thin, brightly coloured jacket, has dressed for warmer weather. Shivering, she huddles into herself. ‘Let’s get you home,’ says Peter. For the last half hour of their journey, while the train was pulling in and all the way from the station he’s been saying things like that: ‘We’re almost home,’ and, ‘Won’t it be nice to be home?’ as if this were her home too. Their suitcases, pulled on wheels behind them, are noisy on the crooked slabs. ‘They’ll know we’re here,’ says Peter.

‘Who will?’ asks Sonia.

‘Everyone,’ says Peter.

Sonia, looking around, sees a lone figure in the bay window of a retirement home, and a woman in a transparent mac sitting on a bench in a shelter. Peter nods at the woman as they pass.

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