Perfect Lives by Polly Samson

About the book

In an English seaside town, lovers and children, young men and middle-aged women, weave in and out of each other’s lives and stories.

A mother is tormented by her daughter’s tattoo; another only pretends to love her baby. A wife stalks her husband and his new lover; a broken egg through a letterbox tells a story that will not go away; the cat thinks he knows best. Threaded throughout are longings for love and poignant disappointments, surprising pleasures and temptations. Some will fall but some, like the small boy at the circus who sees his babysitter fly past on a trapeze wearing little more than a blue bra and spangles, will retain their feeling of awe.

 

Reviewed by Bookwombs

Short stories linked through setting and some characters. Sensitively written – led to interesting discussion around human connection and condition”

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The Atmospheric Railway by Shena MacKay

About the book

Shena Mackay is one of the very best short-story writers in the world. The Atmospheric Railway contains not only thirteen brilliant new stories, but a selection of twenty-three more from her previous collections, making it a delight for her existing admirers and the perfect introduction to her work for newcomers.

 

Reviewed by New Milton Sands 3

“Very mixed but in the main the book was not an enjoyable read. No more short stories for us!”

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Close range by Annie Proulx

These stories are set in the beautiful, wild landscape of Wyoming where cowboys live much as they have done for generations – hard, lonely lives in unforgiving country.

Review by Tuesday Afternoon Reading Group

Stunnig and excellent descriptions of landcape, weather and people. Overall feeling of bleak, hard lives. Very well researched and interesting. Difficult to empathise with any of the characters. Led to a very lively discussion.

Star rating: ***

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Runaway by Alice Munro

About the book

The matchless Munro makes art out of everyday lives in this exquisite collection. Here are men and women of wildly different times and circumstances, their lives made vividly palpable by the nuance and empathy of Munro’s writing. Runaway is about the power and betrayals of love, about lost children, lost chances. There is pain and desolation beneath the surface, like a needle in the heart, which makes these stories more powerful and compelling than anything she has written before.

Reviewed by Brats et al Reading Group:

We had chosen this book because one of the group had read The View from Castle Rock, the story of Alice’s family history which had been enjoyed. We didn’t enjoy this set of short stories. We felt that the characters weren’t described very well and many of the stories had an ending that was very inconclusive or unbelievable. It was also slightly strange that in a book of short stories, there were three stories (about half the book) about one characters as if the author had a theme which they had toyed with as a novel but then decided that there wasn’t enough for a longer piece of work.

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Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri

About the book

Beginning in America, and spilling back over memories and generations to India, Unaccustomed Earth explores the heart of family life and the immigrant experience. Eight luminous stories – longer and richer than any Jhumpa Lahiri has yet written – take us from America to Europe, India and Thailand as they follow new lives forged in the wake of loss.

Reviewed by The Benches

An interesting, well written selection of short stories culminating with a group of three related tales…almost a novella. Some characters lacked definition, all stories have a sense of loss, each character seemed disassociated both from friends and family. We rated this book as a little above average.
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Fascination by William Boyd

About the book

In Fascination Boyd shows his brilliance of the form as these stories range widely through time and space. In a dazzling array of styles and narratives we move from 1930s Germany to Los Angeles in the Second World War, from contemporary Oxford to 19th century Russia. Whether in London or Amsterdam. Eastbourne or a Normandy village these stories explore and expose the fraught, funny, absurd, poignant and lovelorn lives of their many and varied characters.

Reviewed by Romsey Library Reading Group:

Promising beginnings, but stories not rounded well and therefore there was a lack of satisfaction. Well written. Disappointing when compared to his other books.

Star rating: **+
 

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