REVIEW by Jemma L King

NWR Issue 100

All the Souls, Stories of the Living and the Dead

by Mary-Ann Constantine

Apparently, the new ‘big thing’ in literature is ‘sick-lit’, a genre aimed at teenagers who would prefer Twilight if Edward happened to be dying of Marfan Syndrome or suchlike. Over the past decade, I’ve noticed a parallel surge in what you could term historical sick- lit for adults. Ian Pears’ weighty four-part novel, An Instance of the Fingerpost, for example, revels in its research into seventeenth-century blood transfusions and medical experiments. It’s a fascinating area, and despite my discomfort as to the attraction of such material (the media preoccupation with pandemics perhaps?) I’m as interested as the next person. Mary-Ann Constantine’s All The Souls is a collection of short stories, but its stand-out (almost) novella-length piece, ‘The Collectors’, taps into this curiosity by making leprosy a central theme.

Ostensibly, the story is about two doctors and a folklorist who join forces on a quest to prove that the condition still exists in a country, France, that has all but eradicated leprosy. This may not sound like buckets of fun, but actually, it is. Constantine’s prose is poetic and in opposition to the subject matter, exotic and beautiful....

Want to read the full article? Go to our online shop where you can buy an individual issue or take out a subscription to NWR, saving £3.98 on the cover price. Prices start at £16.99 for three issues via Direct Debit, including p+p (UK only).

Buy this book at


previous review: Then Spree
next review: Baader-Meinhof and the Novel, Narrative of the Nation/Fantasies of the Revolution, 1970-2010


A brief note on copyright:all authors have given permission for their work to appear online on New Welsh Review's website. Copyright remains with the author. If you wish to reproduce part or all of any article then the permission of the author must be sought, and the author and New Welsh Review credited accordingly.

Contact us:Registered Office PO Box 170, Aberystwyth, Ceredigion, SY23 1WZ - Telephone 00 (44) 1970 628410
© New Welsh Review Ltd, all rights reserved - Registered in England and Wales - Registered number: 02493828
Website design: mach2media and mopublications      Website development: Technoleg Taliesin Cyf.