(ARC) Paperback, 224 pages.
Read from December 07 to 08, 2013.
I’d like to thank Goodreads for free ARC copy of this book. This is a refreshing collaboration of intricate and intriguing short stories. This book was a quick read and I enjoyed the similar themes of division, loss and love and the emotional depth that each story contained. The author played with the dynamics of how each of these themes affect us. No matter who you are, where you are from and who you are with we all share the same pursuit for love and will all be faced with our own losses and divisions in that pursuit. Some of the stories are heart-retching while others make you feel a bit uncomfortable but I believe that is the desired effect.
I found the story of the woman who lost her leg particularly touching. The story is narrated from the point of view of the husband as he struggles to reconnect with his broken wife who has yet to come to terms with the loss and actually embrace and love the body she now has. What was particularly effective was how you were able to get a perfect idea of the spite and hatred the wife had for her own position despite the story having been narrated from the husband’s point of view. It just details how well the husband knows his wife. It’s torture to see what the husband has to deal with in terms of being mindful of his wife’s turmoil but in also trying to address his own needs to reconnect with his wife and ultimately help her improve her well-being. The story’s ending was, thankfully, hopeful.
The story involving the adoption of a child I found difficult. There was so much tension between these two very different women over the selection of which child they were going to adopt together. This story was narrated from just the one woman in the relationship so I felt the need to take her maternal side (despite having not children) as her partner seemed eager to have the process over with and didn’t seem to be too bothered with which child they ended up taking home with them. The couple’s predicament felt very real and in a way and had a sense familiarity to it. The overwhelming urge the narrator had to adopt the one specific child, while the story never went there, was going to have explosive implications for the couple and Laken did an excellent job in depicting this.
Overall I enjoyed Laken’s writing and would recommend this novel for anyone with an appreciation for well-written short stories.
2 thoughts on “Separate Kingdoms: Stories by Valerie Laken”
Glad you enjoyed the book! (I got here via Goodreads.) I’m always looking for short stories to read, because I mostly read novels. This story sounds fascinating. Thanks for the review.
Thanks for the comment and feedback. I’ve been reading a lot of short stories lately and will have some more reviews of short story collaborations up soon!