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The Oystercatcher Girl

by Gabrielle Barnby

ISBN-10: 191094615X
ISBN-13: 978-1910946152

The Oystercatcher Girl is available in paperback and eBook for Kindle (also Kindle for Android and iPad - click Kindle for Android). The book can be purchased at the following:

In the medieval splendour of St Magnus Cathedral, three women gather to mourn the untimely passing of Robbie: Robbie's widow, Tessa; Tessa's old childhood friend, Christine, and Christine's unstable and unreliable sister, Lindsay. But all is not as it seems: what is the relationship between the three women, and Robbie? What secrets do they hide? And who has really betrayed who?

Gabrielle Barnby, winner of the George MacKay Brown short story competition, releases her debut novel on April 12th.

The Oystercatcher Girl is a beautifully understated story of deception and forgiveness, love and redemption. When three women are reunited for the funeral of a friend they find there is more connecting them than they realise.

Author Sara Bailey says, “...we are drawn in first and foremost by the lyrical, lilting language of this beautifully crafted novel. The Oystercatcher Girl is an excellent debut novel and a wonderfully evocative and deftly woven Orcadian story.”

Gabrielle Barnby Gabrielle Barnby works in a variety of genres including short stories, poetry and children's fiction. She lives with her husband and four children in Orkney, Scotland. Gabrielle's short stories and book reviews have been published in Northwords Now and The Stinging Fly. Various pieces of her poetry and prose are available in local anthologies including Waiting for The Tide, Come Sit at Our Table and Kirkwall Visions, Kirkwall Voices.

Gabrielle also edits monthly writing pages in Living Orkney magazine and runs local writing workshops. She has been commissioned to compose and perform poems at local anniversaries and events and last year performed in the Orkney Storytelling festival.

In 2015 her first collection of short stories The House With The Lilac Shutters was published by ThunderPoint. In the same year she won The George Mackay Brown Short Story competition.

Gabrielle's debut novel will be published by ThunderPoint Publishing in 2017.

More information about her work and occasional pieces of flash fiction can be found on her website She is also on facebook and twitter @GabrielleBarnby.

Excerpt from The Oystercatcher Girl

Chapter 1 

In the fleshy light of St Magnus Cathedral the smooth coffin lid appears white. Within this giant refuge from the wind nothing else catches my attention, not the shards of colour in the high round window, not the flames dancing on the candle sticks.

Heads lean and bob, but I keep focus, seeking the coffin like searching for a face in a crowd. Here and there, fingers rise and touch against lips or press the underside of noses. The silence is solitary; everyone in their own empty cathedral.

In the very front row there is what looks like a gap, but it’s just a head lower than the others where a little girl sits. Jenna is wearing a dark green dress with a white collar. Seeing her brings a swell of grief, tender, sharp and clean.

The minister stands; like a box of puppets the congregation copies.

‘Thank you for coming here today to celebrate Robert’s life. And thank you for your heartfelt and moving tributes. They are testament to his good character and generous spirit.’

She looks down briefly at her notes, adjusting her glasses before resuming.

‘Together let us pray that everyone who grieves will be consoled. Just as everyone who dies will find eternal rest. We pray for Robert's parents, for his sister and brother. We ask that they are comforted in this time of sorrow. We pray for Robert’s daughter Jenna, we know that she will remember his kind attentiveness as a father. We pray for Robert’s wife Tessa...’

Tessa is next to Jenna, her narrow shoulders held rigid. Her pale neck stands out starkly against the black collar of her jacket. ‘...that she will find strength in her grief, that her friends and family will keep Robert’s memory alive with her...’

The tissue clasped between my fingers will not compact any further. The words of prayer begin to lose meaning.

Tessa can’t be buying any of this I think, but then I see her shoulders begin to quiver. A small heat-haze wobble, a less keen observer might not notice. There’s a tight pain across my larynx, weakness rises up through my legs. How can Tessa possibly cope when I can barely stand here listening to this... how is anyone meant to cope?

My best friend.

Someone nearby is sobbing. Despite everything, despite this being a wholly suitable place and time to breakdown and cry, the noise is embarrassing. I hold my breath to keep silent, mop away the marching drops, seek distraction, anything to take me away from this moment, this place; because Robbie is dead.

From outside, there comes the short flat whistle of oystercatchers coming up from the harbour, back to where the old shore used to be.

Do the birds somehow remember? Do they know what we have claimed from them?