I bought this book a few years ago because the book group that I was in did 2 of the stories for one of the meetings. I enjoyed them so got the whole collection. I like short stories generally, and especially for book group discussions. I had also heard a lot about Joanne Harris but had not read any of her work.
This collection is an imaginative mix of subjects, all very easy to read, and most are between 10-20 pages long.
It starts with one of the stories I'd already read...Faith and Hope go Shopping, about 2 old ladies breaking free from their rest home to go for a day out in London in pursuit of some red stillettoes from a magazine. I remembered it made me quite misty eyed the first time and did so again. Powerful stuff from a short story.
Not all of them elicited such a strong reaction, and one or two I skim read because they did not grab me so much. There is, however something for everyone here, funny, heartbreaking and shocking. Some of the narrative can take on some imaginative twists too.
Others I particularly liked were :-
Al and Christine's World of Leather, about a sewing circle that branches out into business,
A Place in the Sun about a near future world where you have to apply to sunbathe on a particular beach where only the beautiful can go,
Tea with the Birds about neighbourliness and loneliness,
Come in, Mr Lowry, your number is up about a fastidious man who wins the lottery,
Waiting for Gandalf about role playing games that take a sinister twist,
The Little Mermaid a love story at the local swimming baths,
Eau de Toilette the realities of being a society woman a few centuries ago.
This book would be excellent as a first time short story book, for someone looking for something that is easy to relate to, and not too taxing. Or even as a light holiday read.
Other short story books I would recommend are:-
Drinking Coffee Elsewhere by ZZ Packer
Moments of Reprieve by Primo Levi
The History of the World in 10 1/2 chapters by Julian Barnes.
There is a website that posts a new short story a week called Fifty Two Stories for the whole of 2009 which is definately worth a look too. Thanks to RobAroundBooks for that recommendation!
This book counts for #1 of the 2009 mini challenges to read a collection of short stories.