The Marzipan Fruit Basket


short fiction by Lucy E.M. Black

Print: 978-1-77133-377-1 – $19.95
ePUB: 978-1-77133-378-8 – $11.99
PDF: 978-1-77133-380-1 – $11.99

160 Pages
May 24, 2017

SKU: N/A Categories: , , , Tag:

The stories in this collection are unifed by a sense of dislocation. In each of the pieces, there is an underlying element of disturbance and disharmony. Resolution threads its way through the narratives while the characters struggle to navigate conscious choices and come to terms with new realities. A perspective that views the complexity of life journeys as a manifestation of intentional decisions, circumstances beyond one’s control, and the need to reflect upon the combination of both in order to become fully realized, drives the narrative voices.

“Lucy Black arrives into the world of Can Lit with this compilation of beautifully written short stories that speak to the heart-felt intimacies of both her characters and her readers.”

—Donna Morrissey, author of The Fortunate Brother

“Water don’t always quench a deep thirst,” speaks one of her characters, but Lucy E.M. Black’s characters are a fresh drink of water in all their complexities. This collection is a glass brimming full with heartfelt narratives of people piloting through the denseness of life. Beautifully dark and light and honest and deep in the vulnerabilities we dwell in and share. A charming and gifted new voice in the growing landscape of Canadian literature.”

—Gianna Patriarca, author of Italian Women and Other Tragedies and All My Fallen Angelas

“There will be no need for an editor to red-line superfluous text in Lucy Black’s debut story collection, The Marzipan Basket. Stories drive in a straight-line narrative, drawing, pulling, the reader into an emotionally epiphanic event in the life of the protagonist, often interwoven with that of an I-narrator and, with strong images, revealing a depth of feeling you will recall and relate to from your own experience. Ever-present in the lives of the characters are the pain and consequences of abuse, cruelty, indifference, abandonment, loss and loneliness, struggle, poverty, and love. These stories reflect moments in time; slices-of-life to which there are no resolutions; in this, author Lucy Black trusts her readers to envisage their own coda.”

—Rhoda Rabinowitz Green, author of Slowly I Turn, Moon Over Mandalay, and Aspects of Nature


Lucy Black is an educator. She studied creative writing at the undergraduate level and later earned an M.A. in nineteenth-century British fiction. Her short stories have been published in many publications includingCyphers Magazine, under the gum tree, the Hawai’i Review, Vintage Script, and the Antigonish Review. She lives with her husband and son in a small town near Toronto, Ontario. The Marzipan Fruit Basket is her debut collection of short fiction.


I had been promised an adventure: a nice train ride, a visit with Tante Edda, and a trip to the sea. This wasn’t a nice train ride. My mother was acting strange. I didn’t like it. “When can we go home?” I asked her. “I miss everyone.”

I didn’t want to go home particularly but I had discovered that this question was a way to get attention. Usually it made her circle me with her arms and smooth my hair, and tell me what a good kind I was.

“Not yet,” she answered crossly. “We have things to do first.”

This was not the expected response and I began to cry. Little tears.

“What’s wrong now?” she asked me. Clearly impatient.

“I don’t like this,” I said. “I want to go home.”

“I am home,” she said, “this is my home. Don’t you want to be here with me? We’re going to the sea. You will meet Tante Edda who I love very much. She has a big house near the sea. She had a little girl once named, Maartje.”

“That’s a stupid name,” I said but then because my mother looked so annoyed by my response, I continued, “tell me about Maartje, what happened to her?”

And my mother began the story of Tante Edda and Ome Hendrik, and Maartje and the terrible time near the end of the war when there was nothing to eat but herring and shrimp and no eggs and no vegetables because the soldiers had taken everything, and how Maartje became weaker and weaker and her little legs became so thin that she couldn’t stand on them and had to lie down on the bed all day long, and how she just faded away and died and there was nothing to be done. And I fell asleep while she was talking and when I woke up she was shaking me and the train was stopping.

5 reviews for The Marzipan Fruit Basket

  1. inannaadmin

    The Marzipan Fruit Basket by Lucy E.M. Black
    reviewed by Patricia’s Wisdom – September 13, 2018

    THE MARZIPAN FRUIT BASKET is a gem group of short stories. 24 delightful looks into adverse situations and delightful descriptions and reads that can transport one to the 1940s and also to contemporary discourse and activities. I believe Lucy Black is an old soul with a heart for working life out for the best results – though sometimes sad results.

    It took me considerable time to figure out that the author was not value programed in the USA nor the UK. There was a subtlety to the writing that included ideas common to me but may not be so common to the US reader. My family background is Canadian and thus the familiar in the stories. There were not big twists and reveals in the stories but there were resolutions and outcomes. It was similar to eating high class chocolates versus the quickie treat from the gas station mart. The reader will need to work a bit to digest these tales. The characters definitely play on one’s emotions.

    My favorite story is the one about the Romaine Lettuce Hearts. It reminded me so much of a story I told when teaching Developmental Psychology to Nursing Students. How does one introduce new ideas and get new results? Why do we stick with the same old same old?

    Short story buffs will enjoy this group and I think if will be a new adventure for some readers.

  2. inannaadmin

    Book Review: The Marzipan Fruit Basket by Lucy E.M. Black
    reviewed by Dwell in Possibility – September 13, 2018

    Unlike Eleanor Courtown, this book is a collection of short stories that pull together a range of complex characters in a fairly compact setting. I’m going to include a snippet from the “about the book” information, since this says it much better than I would be able to: “The stories in this collection are unified by a sense of dislocation. In each of the pieces, there is an underlying element of disturbance and disharmony.” That is, perhaps inevitably, a really good way to put it.

    As with most short story collections, all of the characters are different, and none of them is connected personally (as far as I can tell). But all of them face localized challenges that they have to deal with — whether successfully or less than successfully — in the course of the story. I wouldn’t call this the happiest group of stories, although not all of them are by definition unhappy, but I would say that they make the sort of impact that good short stories make.

    Author Lucy E.M. Black manages to insert a significant amount of characterization and moment into this collection of wide-ranging characters, as well as time periods (some of them modern-day, others earlier in the 20th century). There’s some history to be found, particularly with the woman who has been subjected to the horrifying practice of symphysiotomy, but ultimately these stories are all about the characters themselves and what they’re facing.

    As with Eleanor Courtown, I definitely recommend The Marzipan Fruit Basket and particularly for fans of good short stories. It can be read quickly, which is what I did since it was such an interesting read, but I have to admit that the result was a few days of deep pondering as some of the more poignant moments stuck with me. I might have been better off reading one at a time and taking some time in between to consider each in turn. But either way, highly recommended.

  3. inannaadmin

    The Marzipan Fruit Basket by Lucy E.M. Black
    reviewed by Jessica
    Literary Birds (Instagram) – September 12, 2018

    Short stories are seriously underrated! Reading shorts gives the reader a full range of emotions and realizations in a quick read! This book of shorts gave me serious nostalgic feelings and more than one left me thinking! If you’re new to short stories or are looking to change up your reading game, I recommend The Marzipan Fruit Basket! You won’t be disappointed as the author has so much depth in her stories!

  4. inannaadmin

    The Marzipan Fruit Basket by Lucy E.M. Black
    reviewed by Carleigh
    Literary Quicksand – September 11, 2018

    I was pleasantly surprised to find that The Marzipan Fruit Basket is not a full-length novel, but a collection of short stories. At the time of reading this, I was on a bit of a short story kick, so it fit in perfectly, and yet stood out so much from the others. These stories burst with character and drew some serious emotional responses from me. I selected 3 of the 24 stories to tell you about here; while these were my favourites, all 24 are pretty fantastic.


    “Gridlock” made me ugly cry. Only a few pages long, it describes the frustration of a couple stuck in traffic. Suddenly, this contempt is juxtaposed with the reason the highway is blocked; there is a procession of cars for the Highway of Heroes (for my US friends, this is a corridor along the 401 Trans-Canada between CFB Trenton and the coroner’s office at the Centre for Forensic Sciences in Toronto). I felt that this story perfectly summed up the Canadian response to our forces in the Middle East in the last few years. We ignore, turn our heads, even when those who have gone before pay the ultimate response. And we have that innocence and privilege because of those who continue to make efforts in peacekeeping all over the world on behalf of our nation.

    “I look over at the adjacent car and get a final glimpse of the little girl. She surveys the roadway happily as her car also moves forward. She is still bouncing a little. Untouched by the young man who has died before his time and the pain of those left behind. I press the button to close my window while my partner turns on the air.”

    “School Days”

    Early in the novella, “School Days” is the fourth shorts in The Marzipan Fruit Basket, and it’s here where we see this strong theme of displacement beginning to solidify. Following what I can only assume is an excerpt of Ms. Black’s teaching experience in “South End”, “School Days” promptly takes us into a young girl’s life. As she begins to fight the expectation set by her sister, she encounters resistance; from the scholarly institution that she wants to accept her so badly, then from home, where her father hurls insults and possessions in response to her University application. I loved “School Days” because it brings into focus the continued struggle that girls face when wanting to be smart and educated. I certainly identified with pieces of this story. Whether a teacher, parent, or other influential character in a girl’s life, all pose risks to a girl’s dream.

    “Garden Story”

    “Garden Story” is the last story of this beautiful little book. It is merely one and a half pages long, but that’s enough. It sent shivers up my spine as it described the formation of a love story built around a garden. I didn’t miss the metaphor; at the beginning, the nameless “she” is introduced to Phlox (bleeding heart), in anticipation of winter, Galanthus (snowdrop). Together, they plan for the green of spring.

    “And then one night, wrapped in quilts, they stood shivering on the terrace to watch a shooting star. Above the ravine, it blazed a trail in the dark.”

    What a beautiful ending.

  5. inannaadmin

    The Marzipan Fruit Basket by Lucy E.M. Black
    reviewed by Nadia
    A Bookish Way of Life – September 10, 2018

    Short stories are where its at and The Marzipan Fruit Basket by Lucy E. M. Black proves that fact to a tee. This lovely tome filled with twenty-four wonderful stories is Canadian Lit at its best! I just loved dipping in and out of this book every day – reading a story a day felt like such a treat (plus, I didn’t want to run out of them so quickly.) They were beautifully written, chock full of emotion, and so relatable with their topics of loneliness, abuse, and loss. Talk about a cornucopia of feelings! I found myself unable to stop thinking about what I was reading – it was fantastic!

    Black has created a collection of short stories that are simply put…top notch. The writing is strong, clear, and bursting with life. The characters are flawed, realistic, and unforgettable. And the stories themselves are just addictive. This is one book that you will not want to miss out on.

    I would happily recommend The Marzipan Fruit Basket to fans of short stories and anyone looking for their next great read – you will LOVE this book!!

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Printed Copy, ePUB, PDF

You may also like…