This book was given to me by the Glasgow Women’s Library during world book day – they had a lucky dip for a free book and I happened to choose this one. I had intended to read it much sooner but then ended up always choosing other things. Once again, I was slightly put off by it being a collection of short stories and, judging by the cover and the quotes on the back, it sounded like it would be love stories.
I guess it kind of is a collection of love stories, in that love is a common theme, but it couldn’t really be considered romantic. The relationships are more often awkward and unfulfilling than they are warm. Sometimes they’re out and out chilling. At least one story isn’t about relationships at all, unless it has some abstract level I didn’t pick up on, and the variety of themes, writing styles and settings is impressive – it’s almost like reading multiple authors.
A lot of the stories are set in Glasgow, or more generally in Scotland, and many of Galloway’s characters speak with accents or Scots idioms. Incidentally, her characters are all perfect – they’re all entirely believable and again, this is impressive because they’re all so different (although being generally awkward and uncertain seems to unite a fair few of them). As I often find with short stories, though, I was left wanting to know more. I wanted to know what happened after the story had finished and about the events that had led up to it beginning.
Perhaps the one disadvantage is that the stories, side by side sort of jar against each other. This is another common problem I have with collections of short stories – often they were never really meant to be read one after another, but here I am with a paperback in my bag which I want to read one page after the next. Fortunately, there is an over-arching theme here, but I still think it would be better to dip in and out of this book.
Nevertheless, I surprised myself by enjoying it. I’d never even heard of Galloway before now but having spent less than five minutes googling I’m now curious about her other books, which appear to be very well received novels. Sooner or later I’m bound to pick one of them up.