As Little As Nothing

By Pamela Mulloy

As Little As Nothing
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“A buoyant and affecting portrait of four disparate souls striving to become their true selves on the cusp of major social change. ” — Kathleen Winter, author of Undersong

“With intimacy, acuity, and grace, Pamela Mulloy captures the complex inner lives of her characters, ... Read more


Overview

 

“A buoyant and affecting portrait of four disparate souls striving to become their true selves on the cusp of major social change. ” — Kathleen Winter, author of Undersong

“With intimacy, acuity, and grace, Pamela Mulloy captures the complex inner lives of her characters, who yearn to become themselves as England lurches into war. ” — Jack Wang, author of We Two Alone

It is 1938 and rumours of a coming war are everywhere. On a quiet morning in September outside a small town in England, a plane crashes and four people are brought together in the aftermath. Miriam, a young woman devastated by multiple miscarriages, rises from her bed and hurries to the scene. There she meets Frank and together they pull the wounded pilot, Peter, from the wreckage. Miriam soon meets Frank’s aunt Audrey, the family rebel, who has refused to marry and travels the country as a reproductive-rights activist.

It is Frank who teaches Miriam to fly. As Miriam prepares to co-pilot with Frank in a prestigious air race from London to Manchester, she uses flight to escape from confronting her inability to bear children. Miriam is also drawn into Audrey’s activism, and the women dig in even as the looming war threatens to set back their cause.

Rich with historical detail, As Little As Nothing beautifully explores themes of resistance, the strength of new bonds, and the various ways we reinvent ourselves.

 

Pamela Mulloy

Pamela Mulloy's short fiction has been published in the UK and Canada, most recently in Polish(ed) (Guernica, 2017), an anthology of Polish-Canadian writing. She is the editor of The New Quarterly. Pamela Mulloy grew up in Moncton, New Brunswick and now lives in Kitchener, Ontario with her husband and daughter.

Excerpt

 

Miriam knew she needed to fly when she lost her fifth baby. Those luminous nights, the pearl moon casting shadows across the village as she took flight; her arms spread, her body soaring, undulating through the air currents as she went higher. Higher so that she could no longer see the village, and the space in which she existed seemed at once foreign and yet her own. This was her nightly journey, the one that might save her. For seven nights she existed in this liminal space, anchored to her bed, anchored to the idea that there was another Miriam who had overtaken her, one who existed in the bed of clouds that blindfolded the moon.

It was on the eighth morning that she heard the airplane she knew to be in trouble. Roused from a morning nap, the sound familiar living so close to the airfield at Hackley Aerodrome and Flying School. They’d become accustomed to the planes, but this sputtering was new and it pulled her, still weak from the blood loss, from her bed. She grasped the heavy drapery that kept her room as night and squinted at the intruding light. She opened the window, surprised at the soft, balmy air and looked skyward for the airplane that now seemed elusive. There it was, a choking sound that told her it was still up there somewhere.

She reached for a dress from the wardrobe and was soon clothed, the first time in over a week. She barely knew where she was going as she stumbled down the stairs and outside to her bicycle.

She was sore, and stiff, and in a weakened state but the sun was out and this surprised her so much that it was enough to keep her moving, and soon she was out on the road, right onto the High Street, then left on the Guildford Road that took her out of town in the direction of the aerodrome. Out in the open she looked ahead, scouring the sky for any sight of the plane and spotted it ahead, teetering eastward. She pedalled toward it, trying to calculate where it might come down.

***

“It’s coming,” she’d told Edmund, a month ago when she was still able to take in the world around her. “War. What we hear is only a fraction of what they know. ” The chatter in the village like constant static.

“It won’t come to that, love,” Edmund so sure, as if he had a direct line to those in power.

***

After five minutes, she spotted a stile where she sat after leaning her bicycle into the hedge. What would Edmund think of her, out roaming the countryside like this? A week of nursing her back to health only to lose her to a failing airplane.

The airplane.

The quiet meant the engine was no longer running.

 

Reviews

 

“A buoyant and affecting portrait of four disparate souls striving to become their true selves on the cusp of major social change. ” — Kathleen Winter, author of Undersong

“With intimacy, acuity, and grace, Pamela Mulloy captures the complex inner lives of her characters, who yearn to become themselves as England lurches into war. Soaring and kaleidoscopic, As Little As Nothing is both a beautiful evocation of the past and a novel for our times — a clarion call for the right of women everywhere to choose their own destiny. ” — Jack Wang, author of We Two Alone

As Little As Nothing was a lovely read on a warm summer day, and it was also a reminder that women have been fighting for decades and will continue to fight, for agency and the right to make decisions about our bodies … A beautiful story that is at once timely and timeless. ” — Urban Info Girl blog

“Mulloy gracefully captures the lives of two women who, against the backdrop of a looming war, must reinvent themselves. Like the best historical fiction, As Little As Nothing helps illuminate the issue of reproductive rights by shining a light on the past. ” — Claire Cameron, author of The Last Neanderthal

 

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