This is one of those books I’d never have heard of, bought or read if blogs didn’t exist. When Kate’s book was published last year there was a large virtual applause from all those who regularly read Kate’s book blog. I was already familiar with some of the stories because she linked to one (Aerial view of a dinner party) and read another aloud (The story of her life) for Christmas. These 2 stories really made me want to read all the others, and I wasn’t disappointed!
Having interactions with someone through blogs is definitely not like knowing someone in real life, but as I read All in together girls, I immediately recognized Kate’s voice and perceptiveness. Her characters are deeply believable and likeable, often insecure young women who struggle with choices, peer pressure, love or friendship disappointments and treasons. I especially liked the mother / daughter interactions in “The story of her Life”, “Outside the Frame” and “Tales from the Peeble’s Hydro”. That one is my favorite, I guess, because it also delicately evokes the Scottish immigrants in Canada and how a daughter can see her mother with different eyes as both grow older. One story I found weaker was “The Necklace” because the character was so passive and depressed. But in every story, emotions and actions are skillfully tied together, I really wish I could write something so clear and deceptively simple.
This book definitely put me in the mood for more short stories. At the library, after a big mess-up on my reservation of “Who killed Roger Ackroyd” (I’ll probably get the book after the baby will be born!), I found a collection by Hungarian-German short story writer Zsuzsa Bank (un-translated in English I think). I’m looking forward to new discoveries in contemporary short stories, feel free to send me suggestions!