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Short stories 321-330

 Merry Christmas, Everyone!

On with the reporting:
  • “Caravan” by Rosalyn Chissick. A fine little tale about a girl who joins the circus. Recommended.
  • “The Seven Steps from Shag to Spouse” by Tiffanie Darke . The stages of development in a relationship. About as dreary as the title suggests.
  • “Lip Service” by Karen Moline. A man tells his friends the story of a narrow escape from a woman.
  • “Saving Amsterdam” by Chris Manby. About finding love again.
  • “A Form of Release” by Daisy Waugh. About a has-been pop star yearning for a come-back.
  • “Hurrah for the Hols” by Helen Simpson. A family holiday and the woes of parenthood.
  • “No Worries” by Sarah Ingham. About travel as a metaphor for healing after a breakup.
  • “Re: The World”, by Amy Jenkins. GNI. About the one who got away.
This finishes Girls’ Night Out. I had some inkling of what I was getting myself into when I decided to read this book for the challenge: lots of light-hearted stories about romance and some stories about break-up crises and recovery, but what I didn’t expect was the sameness of other themes in the stories. It seems as if every other woman in these stories either works in publishing or either is a celebrity or ends up dating one, and at least a third of the stories involve the combination of heartbreak and travel followed by new love. I lay the blame for the publishing theme at the door of Bridget Jones, or rather Helen Fielding, and celebrities are always a popular subject for light-hearted stories, but I wonder what the reason for the popularity of the travel theme is - could it be the implied glamour of travel or the inevitable metaphor of travel as a journey towards recovery? Whatever the reasons, I just wish there hadn’t been so many versions of what was basically the same story.

The last of the November reads:

  • “The Corner Shop” by Cynthia Asquith. A chilling tale about an antiques shop. Recommended.

And now for the home stretch: December’s stories.

Most of the Christmas stories in my collection that aren’t novels are novellas and too long to include in the challenge, but I do have one book of Christmas mysteries that I plan to finish in December, and I will fill up the gaps with other, holiday and non-holiday stories that will enable me to finish a couple of books. I might also look farther afield and pull some classic Christmas stories off the Internet.

Starting with a spooky Christmas story from Roald Dahl’s Book of Ghost Stories, here are the December stories:

  • “Christmas Meeting” by Rosemary Timperley. A very short but nonetheless chilling Christmas ghost story, and proof that a story need not be long to be effective. Recommended.

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Short stories 221-230

From Norway:

The Blacksmith Who Could Not Get Into Hell”. Collected by Asbjörnsen and Moe. An amusing folk tale about beating the Devil. Recommended. (A different translation from the one I read.

“The Father” by Björnstene Björnsson. About a proud father and a parish priest.

“Skobelef” by Johan Bojer. A humorous tale about a horse that has a tremendous influence on a small rural community. Beautifully translated. Recommended.

From Sweden:

Love and Bread” by August Strindberg. A rather cynical tale about a man who discovers that one cannot live by love alone. Recommended. (This is such a very different translation that it makes me want to read the original to see which is truer).

“The Eclipse” by Selma Lagerlöf. A heart-warming tale about an old peasant woman who needs an excuse to invite the neighbours over for coffee. Recommended.

“The Falcon” by Per Hallström. A haunting tale about a peasant boy who rescues a hunting falcon. Beautifully translated. Recommended.

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