The Plankton Collector

Cath Barton

PUBLICATION DATE: September 26, 2018

Editions available from New Welsh Review


About the book

In this atmospheric novella, the mysterious Plankton Collector visits members of a family torn apart by grief and regret. he comes in different guises. For ten year-old Mary, he is Mr Smith who takes her on a train journey to the seaside. Her mother, Rose, meets him as Stephen, by her son’s graveside. Rose’s youngest, Bunny, encounters him as the gardener. For husband and father David, meanwhile, the meeting is with a love from his youth. And long-lost Uncle Barnaby takes the children for a week’s holiday during which their parents begin a reconciliation. All visitors are manifestations of the Plankton Collector who teaches those he encounters the difference between the discarded weight of unhappy memories and the lightness borne by happiness recalled.

Cath Barton was born in the English Midlands and now lives in Abergavenny, south Wales. Her short stories have been published in anthologies in Australia, the US and the UK, most recently in Normal Deviation (Wonderbox Publishing) and Nothing Is As It Was (Retreat West books) and in literary magazines The Lonely Crowd and Strix. Cath was Literature Editor of California-based Celtic Family Magazine (2013-2016) and is currently on the 2018 enhanced mentoring scheme for writers run by Literature Wales, working on a collection of short stories inspired by the work of the sixteenth century Dutch artist Hieronymus Bosch.


"In haunting, exquisite prose the author explores the disconnects that exist within families as each deals with the internal difficulties inherent in life as it progresses."

Jackie Law at Never Imitate blog. 

"The story is told in such a delightful and matter-of-fact way, that it sounds just like a fairy tale for modern times. And its moral is one of hope."

Rachel Carney at Created to Read blog

“Painterly… lush dreamy prose creates a vivid landscape, while its lyricism transports the reader. Cleverly creates a universe of new realities.”

Cathryn Summerhayes literary agent at Curtis Brown

“Cath Barton tells the story… with a lyrical voice that is very much her own. This beautifully structured novella leads the reader to a resolution that is both moving and deeply satisfying.”

Francesca Rhydderch, author of The Rice Paper Diaries

“A brilliantly evoked examination of memory and innocence… delivers a kaleidoscope of compelling voices united by a spectral visitor, not from the heights, but the apparent depths. Haunting.”

James Clammer, author of Why I Went Back

“Haunts like memory, shimmering in and out of love and loss with unexpected, poignant hope. Richly lyrical, beautifully original.”

Helen Sedgwick, author of The Growing Season

“[Cath Barton] writes her story lines with such confidence and in prose that is so delightful to read, that I just couldn't put it down. It's beautiful. A delicate paean for coming together - full of understanding for the quirks and pitfalls and ultimate goodness in human nature.”

Mavis Cheek, author of Amenable Women

"Caring and heart-warming... about people with memories we could all share... Will resonate deeply with anyone who has been through trauma. But anyone who has longed for happier, simpler times will find nostalgic memories becoming lighter too."

James Lloyd, the Cardiff Review

"A text to savour, one of those that remain with the reader well after the end. A wonderful blend of the imaginary and the real, both haunting and deeply moving."

Curtis Bausse