Review – Covid 19: An Extraordinary Time

An anthology edited by Debz Hobbs-Wyatt and Gill James.

This work contains 76 pieces, mostly very short but some longer, featuring the first three months of the Covid Pandemic, some short stories, some flash, some poetry and others where the author just described how he/she was feeling and what he/she was experiencing during March, April, May and June 2020. The editors invited ‘trusted writers who are published by Bridge House, CaféLit, Chapeltown and The Red Telephone’ and followers of the CafeLit website and these publishers will recognise many familiar names.

We were pretty gobsmacked during the spring of 2020, weren’t we, not knowing what to do or how afraid we should be? We accepted, and by and large obeyed, hitherto unheard of regulations and clapped for carers. Of course, we have now moved on and see things differently, but this anthology is important as a snapshot of how we were feeling during those first months.

Interestingly, several pieces were written from an animal point of view and these were some of the best – in my opinion. ‘Something’s Happened to the Humans’ by Gill James provided an entertaining ‘bird’s eye view’. (‘A lot of them are covering their beaks with things that make their beaks look more like ours.’) ‘Changing the Environment’ by Val Owen is prescient, relating an attempt by animals to reduce the human population to defend their own environment.

I was disappointed that a few writers took a dystopian angle – weren’t things bad enough as they were? ‘The Gathering’ by Peter Astle was just the right side of apocalyptic but this was a story which resonated in my head, long after I finished reading it, with strong and distinct characters and a storyline which moved at a cracking pace. A husband who owns a pub and his wife who works in intensive care hold diametrically opposing views on lockdown and act them out, drawing in a celebrated local campaigner.

None of the authors mentioned Dominic Cummings – win, win, surely!

Published by Chapeltown Books, 2021.
Amazon UK.

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