‘Shot of Short’ #38: A Cloud of Facts by Margot Livesey

Title: A Cloud of Facts by Margot Livesey
Date Read: 30 May 2009
Available Online?: YES (as one of the stories posted by Harper Perennial on their website Fifty-Two Stories, which promises a new (or classic) short story from their collection, posted every week throughout 2009)

Briefly: While in a local store Morag spots a shoplifter (Marcel) slipping perfume into his pocket. She makes eye contact with him but he continues in his illegal endeavours before nonchalantly strolling out of the shop. Morag catches up with Marcel outside and he invites her for a coffee. So begins a tenuous relationship; a relationship where Morag seems quite taken with the romantic notion of dating a petty criminal.

Afterthoughts: From memory this may well be the only short story that I’ve read which has been set in contemporary Edinburgh. For that reason alone I quite enjoyed it (the author definitely knows Scotland’s capital city :o)). I would say though, that although the story is well very written, it is perhaps aimed more at readers of the fairer sex. That said I still rather enjoyed it, especially with the nice little twist that Livesey has put in at the end.

Notable Quote: “One October day when the sky above the city of Edinburgh seemed greyer and more solid than the buildings, Morag met Marcel shoplifting. She caught his gaze just as he was sliding a bottle of perfume into the pocket of his raincoat. He stared at her steadily, a man of about thirty whose hair equivocated between fair and brown. Morag thought he might put the perfume back but instead, without taking his eyes off her, he pocketed a second bottle and walked, unhurriedly, out of the shop. When Morag emerged onto Princes Street a few minutes later with her vitamins and handcream, paid for and in a bag, she found him loitering outside the bookshop a few doors down.”

Rating: ★★★☆☆

*Story read as part of my 100 Shots of Short reading challenge.

About Rob

Rob, a self-confessed bibliophile, is without any hope of rehabilitation. He gets unnaturally excited over anything book-shaped, and if book sniffing were a crime then he would have been locked up years ago (which wouldn't bother him in the slightest provided his cell was lined with books).


  1. Have enjoyed your site very much and benefited from the information. Thank You.