While I enjoy reading short stories in women's magazines, from time to time, it's rare for me to read an entire collection unless I am particularly keen on the author in question. Often books of short stories can be disappointing, particularly if written by several different people.
However, 'Tears and Laughter and Happy Ever After' is a happy exception. I have just finished reading, on my Kindle, this delightful collection of 26 short stories produced by 14 different writers (most of them contributed two stories).
Right from the start, I found myself drawn into this book, which features a variety of heroines - and a few heroes - in a surprising number of different contemporary situations. Some more believable than others...
We start by meeting a guy who seems to have been stood up, then the next story features a girl who is meeting her internet boyfriend for the first time. I was particularly struck - and moved - by the third story, about a woman taking a beloved child out for the last time.
I didn't read the whole book at one sitting - I prefer to read just two or three short stories at a time. So, over the past week, I have also enjoyed meeting, among others, a young lady who bumps into an old flame, a guy who keeps bees, a wife wanting to impress her husband's boss, a woman who keeps getting the wrong end of the stick, a girl who seems to have got stuck in a past generation... and many more. The situations vary from the lightly amusing to the quirkily surreal. There are some tense moments and a few places that almost brought a tear to my eye. None of the endings were predictable.
Not all the stories were 'happy ever after', but many of them were surprisingly thought-provoking. It's not easy to create realistic people that the reader cares about in the space of a short story - and some of them are really quite short. But these writers all succeeded. I didn't feel that any of the characters were flat or dull, even though some were amusing caricatures rather than being real.
All in all, I thought these stories were very well written, creating an enjoyable anthology for anyone who likes women's magazines. Highly recommended, although currently I believe it is only available in Kindle form.
(And many thanks to Leigh Forbes, one of the writers concerned, who sent me a free copy for review. But that did not make the review any less objective!)