Servants of the Map by Andrea Barrett

Servants of the Map

Andrea Barrett

Short stories with a common theme of scientific investigation sounds as if it could be rather dry, but these are beautifully written and transform the quest for knowledge into a voyage of discovery through the mysteries of the human heart and spirit. I loved it, despite not normally being a short story reader.

Extract

A hundred times, a thousand times, Rose would try in the following years to reconstruct her mother's life and mind, her mother's death. What was science for, if not for this? In her mother's closet she turned the same things over and over again. An old brown book, falling apart, filled with interesting drawings of fossils, but stubbornly silent regarding the nature of its path to Suky. A slightly less decrepit green book, Mosses with a Hand Lens, which Suky had consulted almost daily. The letters, the crumbling letters, among which a few leaves and lichens had been pressed. And incongruous among all that paper, one ancient, tiny lady's boot, black and moldy, balanced on a ledge as if the woman whose foot it once sheltered had scaled the inside of the closet, passed through the ceiling and simply disappeared.

Parallels
  • The Gate of Angels by Penelope Fitzgerald
  • The Shell Collector by Anthony Doerr
  • Selected Stories by Alice Munro