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Clare Beams Books In Order

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Publication Order of Standalone Novels

The Illness Lesson (2020)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Garden (2024)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of Short Stories/Novellas

The Saltwater Cure (2013)Description / Buy at Amazon
All the Keys to All the Doors (2016)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of Collections

We Show What We Have Learned and Other Stories (2016)Description / Buy at Amazon

Claire Beams
Claire Beams is a historical fiction writer best known for We Show What We Have Learned. This short story collection was voted as 2016’s Kirkus Best Debut. It was also a finalist in the Shirley Jackson Award, Young Lions Fiction Award, and PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize. When she is not writing, Beams works as a creative writing teacher in different institutions. She currently resides in Pittsburgh with her husband and daughters.

The Illness Lesson
The Illness Lesson tells the story of a daughter and father who are determined to change the world. The duo works to change the perception of education by deviating from the norm and helping young ladies with spiritual talents. At the end of the day, Samuel Hood and his daughter Caroline wanted to raise critical thinkers who could, in turn, bring change to society. Things start to go wrong immediately the first student reports to the newly refurbished school. tFirst there are mysterious red birds ohave invaded Birch Hill. There is also a young lady, Eliza Bell, suffering from a strange ailment.

Eliza’s ailment has everyone puzzled until other girls start to show the same symptoms. The signs begin with a rash and progress to headaches, fits, and night wanderings. Soon, Caroline, the only teacher in the institution, begin to show the same signs. However, she tries to hide her symptoms. The only thing she cannot hide is the fact that the girls are getting worse by the day, and a solution is needed ASAP. Could this be a case of hysteria as diagnosed, or is there more to this ailment? If it is indeed hysteria, why is Caroline also showing symptoms similar to those seen in the girls?

The administration turns to a physician known for his sinister ways and dubious methods. It is only Caroline who can speak for the students. To do this, she will have to get the courage to question everything she knows and confront the all-male authorities standing her way. The brutally invading treatment start, and it seems like the only way to restore the girl’s health. Did the physician diagnose the strange disease, and does the treatment offered help? How did the tiny red birds fit in the whole picture?

This story will draw you in from the start making it hard to stop once you start reading. The book is fast-paced, and the storyline is quite unique. Besides, the story has mystery, intrigue, and a well-rounded cast you are going to love. It helps that the book is slightly less than 300 pages, and you can enjoy it in a single sitting. Set in the USA in the 1870’s it is easy to understand the kind of pressure Caroline is facing in a male-dominated society.
The Illness Lesson is an irresistible, distinctive, and haunting story. The author does an excellent job of vividly describing the women’s mind, body, and the effects the strange illness has on them. The gothic setting and compelling premise work great given this is a historical fiction piece. It is intriguing to read about the two people who wanted to change the destiny of women in an era when females were trained to be wives and mothers.

We Show What We Have Learned and Other Stories
We Show What We Have Learned is a collection of short stories. The stories cover everything from depression to bewildering assemblies in auditoriums. These historic literary pieces have several things in common. First, the stories are wise but exquisitely unsettling. Then there is the cast. Get ready to meet a bride who gets a glimpse of her hubby’s past by wearing with war parachute as a gown as well as a teacher who comes undone in full view of her astonished fifth-grade class. If you have a liking for bizarre stories told humorously, you can be sure that you will love this short collection.

This collection stars Hourglass, a tale about a boarding school that promises to deliver transformational education but delivers something completely different. There is also a gothic tale that focuses on the social standards set for women. The Word’s End story focuses on class and power dynamics and structures. Also, there is Granna, a story about a mysterious phenomenon that forces Teresa to take a critical look at her understanding of a strange disease attacking her grandmother.

The stories in this collection capture how strange human beings can be. They also go a step further and show how we try to change ourselves and the surroundings sometimes with minimal success. By capturing strange scenarios, the author forces the reader to observe the supernatural elements and psyches present in this world. Think of forbidden loves, grief, old age, and standards of beauty, among other life elements. The author finds a way of making these situations beautiful by focusing on the logic and the easy to process details in every case.

At the center of these tales are strong characters who often come with intense and secret desires. Vulnerability, love, humor, and family somehow manage to enchant these characters and transform them in strange ways. More often than not, the characters here do not get what they want. Instead, they learn a valuable lesson about their situations and the changes they would experience if they looked at their challenges from a different angle. How do the characters respond to these lessons? Do they focus on the lessons as opposed to getting their way in whatever life element they are dealing with?
We Show What We Have Learned is a collection of beautifully told stories that come with a hint of the macabre and the forbidden. Even though this is a slim volume, it is intensely interesting. It helps that the content is a little bit out of the ordinary. The language, liveliness, and humor in these stories will push you to keep turning the pages. Join the characters in their journeys and watch as they get transformed with unexplainable radiance. Each story is about 20 pages long, so there is enough space to learn every character and understand their situation.

Book Series In Order » Authors » Clare Beams

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