Sadly the publishing industry like every other has had to adapt to the sudden turn of events that look place in March/April 2020, and that meant many books were delayed in publication. Intimacies by Lucy Caldwell was one of those, as it was originally scheduled to come out that year.

The stunning collection of short stories charts the steps and missteps of young women trying to find their confident place in the world. From a Belfast student ordering illegal drugs online to end an unwanted pregnancy to a young mother’s brush with mortality; from a Christmas Eve walking the city centre streets when everything seems possible, to a night flight from Canada which could change a life irrevocably, these are stories that have love, loss and exile at the heart of them. Also of new beginnings and lives lived away from ‘home’.

With each of these exploring the significance of life and relationships, of mothers and children, this short book pulls you in, as it has heart. Compassionate, emotive, and dripping with tenderness, it doesn’t take much guessing around the title for this one. Satisfying and with enough historical reference and real character to give us a clutch, Intimacies is a great book to dip in and out of.

Personal stand out tales are Words for Things, which really gave context to the Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky affair, and saw it more from her perspective, which obviously was not how it was depicted by the media at the time. A female approach gave it a more interesting perspective. The other one is immediately after, Jars of Clay. Now the reason for this edging out above the rest is that it firstly pulls me out of my comfort zone for the main character’s stance on Repeal the 8th. She is very anti-abortion and flies home to Ireland to “do her bit” to ensure this doesn’t happen, which sees her having a brutal discussion that pushes her out of her comfort zone. It’s mesmirising, upsetting and stunning all simultaneously.

There is much to question and gain from a read of Intimacies, I urge you do it.

Intimacies is available 1st April 2021, published by Faber Books