Genre: Literary Fiction/Short Stories
“The characters in this collection of short stories live on the edge of life, reaching for harmony, for stillness and for a sense of joy. They have difficult situations to deal with and their solutions are often unexpected or harsh or, sadly, just as you would expect.
The sea is a constant in their lives; for some it is integral to their livelihoods and for others a source of peace and solace. Albert (Woman with Doll) is a recovering alcoholic who tries to help others whether they want help or not, and Julia (No Way Out) wants to change her life completely but lacks the courage. Middle-aged Brigit (Safe as Houses) longs for romance but is shocked by her parents’ reaction when she gets a date, and Andy (Andy) tries hard to find some happiness in his bleak life, longing for America and motor bikes. Henry (The Collection) is angry with his wife, resenting her growing independence, while Jim and Connie (Waterbabies) have strange ideas about saving a young man from the cold. These are just a few of the characters readers will meet in this collection; they are calculating, devious and just a bit odd, but funny sometimes too, and brave…”
“Joan Slowey, an Irish writer, has lived in Dublin for most of her life but is from Co Down originally. She has been writing for many years and has published short stories, poems, and novels for children.”
As Ms. Slowey states in this books blurb, the sea is a constant in this collection of short stories. Most are miserable couples, meddling siblings, or individuals struggling to survive the status quo or trying to improve their lives. Some of the tales are twisted, some are macabre, and more than a few deal with abusive relationships.
That Cold Place was a good start. After the death of her husband, Vera decides to visit her spinster sister, Rosemary, who is far from thrilled for this visit to her quiet coastal home.
Adam and Eve is a poignant story of Jemima, who never really quite fit in anywhere. It’s a lovely story that left a smile on my face.
One of my favorites was Waterbabies; it was twisted but funny. Not nearly as dark as I found several of the other stories. I had my hopes up for Wedding Night, I was sure this one would end well, I thought with stars in my eyes; instead it left me sad. (The only defense I have here is I read too many romances with happy endings, I suppose.) In The Green Boot, I was mostly happy for Marian. Her biggest boon was realizing she needed a better friend than Irene.
A Bit of Comfort is an enjoyable and interesting character study with bits of wry wit. I caught myself giggling during this story, although it had some editing issues. Several times the digital number 1 was used where I am sure an ‘I’ was intended.
This is a diverse collection of short stories that explored different aspects of the human condition. I am sure if you enjoy literary fiction, you will find this a satisfying read.
Ms. Slowey is an Irish author and uses British/Irish spelling conventions and slang. There are some physical and/or emotional abuses depicted in a few of the relationships within. You will also find a number of F-bombs dropped.
I came across a small number proofing issues.
Rating: **** Four Stars
Reviewed by: ?wazithinkin
Approximate word count: 50-55,000 words