Tag Archives: fiction

Troubling a Star by Madeleine L’Engle

I saw an article recently that L’Engle has a new short story collection coming out, which prompted me to check the library catalogues  for any of her books I’d never read. This fit the bill. I was shocked to see it’s in the same series as my favorite book of hers, A Ring of Endless Light, and I hadn’t read it.

Published: 1995

Genre: YA fiction

Length: 296 pages

Setting: New England and traveling to the Antarctic, 1990s, following the events of A Ring of Endless Light

SummaryShort version: Vicky finds a trip to the Antarctic more dangerous than expected Continue reading

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Justine by Lauwrence Durrell

This is the first book in the Alexandria Quartet, a four novel series that is one of the top 100 books of the century.

Published: 1957

Genre: fiction

Length: 195 pages

Setting: Alexandria, Egypt, around WWII

Summary: Short version: Reminiscences about the narrator’s life in Alexandria Continue reading

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Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

I had Miss Adventure read this as a piece of literature after she saw the movie. I read it alongside her so we could discuss the book.

Published: Part I in 1868, Part II in 1869, together in 1880

Genre: YA fiction/ semiautobiographical

Length: 449 pages

Setting: New England, during the American Civil War (1861-5) for Part I and a few years later for Part II

Summary: Short version: We follow the lives of the March sisters as they transition to adulthood Continue reading

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Roar by Cecelia Ahern

I was looking for some short stories to read and heard about this collection, probably on NPR. I slowly read and reviewed each of the stories. I’m collecting them all into one post, now that I’ve finished the entire collection. I’ll provide my short summaries of each story and then link to their initial discussion. I reviewed three stories at a time, which I’ll refer to as parts 1-10. My final thoughts for this post will be for the collection as a whole.

Published: 2019 in the U.S., 2018 in the U.K.

Genre: short stories with a fantastical element

Length: 273 pages total, individual stories ranging from ~5-15 pages long

Summaries:

Part 1:

“The Woman Who Slowly Disappeared” – A woman finds out she is literally fading from sight because she’s internalized society’s expectations for an older woman

“The Woman Who Was Kept on a Shelf” – A woman realizes there is more to life than being kept on a shelf and adored by her husband

“The Woman Who Grew Wings” – A refugee woman sprouts wings to overcome the obstacles of people in her path

Part 2:

“The Woman Who Was Fed by a Duck” – A woman gets advice on her life from a duck she’s been feeding regularly over her lunch hour

“The Woman Who Found Bite Marks on Her Skin” – A woman is literally being eaten up by guilt because she can’t do everything that is expected of her to perfection

“The Woman Who Thought Her Mirror Was Broken” – A woman has a hard time recognizing her aged image in a mirror and thinks something must be wrong

Part 3:

“The Woman Who Was Swallowed Up by the Floor and Who Met Lots of Other Women Down There Too” – A woman embarrasses herself  and is swallowed by a hole in the floor until she gets over her embarrassment

“The Woman Who Ordered the Seabass Special” – A stuttering customer inspires her stuttering waitress

“The Woman Who Ate Photographs” – A mother gets addicted to the memories she experiences when she eats a photograph

Part 4:

“The Woman Who Forgot Her Name” – A woman tries to recall her identity by sitting with strangers at a restaurant

“The Woman Who Had a Ticking Clock” – The ticking of a woman’s biological clock drives her day-to-day interactions

“The Woman Who Sowed Seeds of Doubt” – A woman doesn’t know what to do with herself when her parents die

Part 5:

“The Woman Who Returned and Exchanged Her Husband” – A 60-year old woman regrets her decisions to return her husband of decades to the shop where she bought him

“The Woman Who Lost Her Common Sense” – A woman going through a divorce realizes she hasn’t lost her common sense, it’s just been warped a bit

“The Woman Who Walked in Her Husband’s Shoes” – A woman is transformed into her husband whenever she puts on her husband’s shoes

Part 6:

“The Woman Who Was a Featherbrain” – A woman focuses too much of her attention on her family and not enough on herself

“The Woman Who Wore Her Heart on Her Sleeve” – A medical condition lead to a woman being unable to hide her true feelings

“The Woman Who Wore Pink” – A woman’s daughter reminds her that people are more than their genitalia

Part 7:

“The Woman Who Blew Away” – A woman only concerned with her image on social media becomes such an airhead she floats away

“The Woman Who Had a Strong Suit” – A woman shows her perseverance looking for an outfit that makes her strong

“The Woman Who Spoke Woman” – A woman disguises herself as a man to be part of the Cabinet in the government

Part 8:

“The Woman Who Found the World in Her Oyster” – A trans woman is invited to a women’s luncheon by her ex-wife

“The Woman Who Guarded Gonads” – A man is denied a vasectomy because an all-female panel doesn’t think it’s necessary

“The Woman Who Was Pigeonholed” – Women complain about being known for a single characteristic

Part 9:

“The Woman Who Jumped on the Bandwagon” – A woman makes it to the top, but not by her own effort

“The Woman Who Smiled” – A woman is told to smile when she doesn’t feel like it

“The Woman Who Thought the Grass Was Greener on the Other Side” – Neighbors think a woman’s life is perfect when it’s not

Part 10:

“The Woman Who Unraveled” – A woman and her sisters are physically falling apart because they concentrate more on their family than their own lives

“The Woman Who Cherry-Picked” – A woman applies her powers of observation to all aspects of her life and succeeds

“The Woman Who Roared” – Everyday women daily go into their secret room and roar

Final thoughts: I really enjoyed this collection. There were a couple of stories that didn’t hit with me, but on average they were all excellent. I also found them to be thought provoking. Each one targeted an aspect common to women’s lives, took it to the extreme, and made you think. Many of the stories took a metaphor and made it literal (like being a featherbrain or having your heart on your sleeve). Ahern also liked to take common gender roles and flip them. I was shocked at how awful society seemed when women restricted men’s lives the way men restricted women’s lives. I guess you can get used to anything. I appreciated the variety of female characters that were included in the stories – young, old, mother, trans, friends, sisters, and so on. There was something for everyone in the collection.

Title comes from: The last story in the collection and the epigraph were about women who roared

Reading challenges fulfilled: book #14 for 2020 and an R in my Title Reading the Alphabet Challenge

If you’re interested in purchasing the book, you can click on the cover image to follow an Amazon affiliate link to the book and thanks for supporting my blog!

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Roar by Cecelia Ahern, Part 10

I’m slowly making my way through the short stories in this collection.

Published: 2018 in the UK, 2019 in the US

“The Woman Who Unraveled

Length: 10 pages

Short summary: A woman and her sisters are physically falling apart because they concentrate more on their family than their own lives

“The Woman Who Cherry-Picked

Length: 6 pages

Short summary: A woman applies her powers of observation to all aspects of her life and succeeds

“The Woman Who Roared

Length: 8 pages

Short summary: Everyday women daily go into their secret room and roar Continue reading

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Roar, by Cecelia Ahern, Part 9

I’m slowly making my way through the short stories in this collection.

Published: 2018 in the UK, 2019 in the US

“The Woman Who Jumped on the Bandwagon

Length: 11 pages

Short summary: A woman makes it to the top, but not by her own effort

“The Woman Who Smiled

Length: 4 pages

Short summary: A woman is told to smile when she doesn’t feel like it

“The Woman Who Thought the Grass Was Greener on the Other Side”

Length: 8 pages

Short summary: Neighbors think a woman’s life is perfect when it’s not

Final thoughts: The first story was another metaphor brought to life. There were actually two women in the story. Both were trying to get to the top of the mountain. The first woman was driving in circles and getting nowhere. Eventually she found a bandwagon to jump on that would take her higher up the mountain. The second woman made her own way walking across the landscape and up the mountain. They both made it to the top at about the same time, which infuriated the first woman. How could the walker get to the top as fast as her? The closing bit of the story is the important part,

‘You and I may have reached the same place, but we are not alike. I wasn’t aiming for here,’ the pedestrian replies. ‘I was just enjoying what I was doing, was doing it very well, and it got me here. You, on the other hand, weren’t doing anything in particular other than trying to get here. Now that I’m here, I can continue what I was doing. Now that you’re here, what do you do?’

The story reminded me that it’s not the destination that’s important. It’s the journey.

The second story is about the different expectations for women’s behavior compared to men’s. Women are expected to be cheerful all the time. If we aren’t smiling out in public, then we’re told to “cheer up” or “smile”. Men don’t get the same treatment. The woman in this story took notice of the fact that she was singled out over men based on her perceived attitude. So, she went back the next day and did outrageously clownish stunts to prove that she was happy. It was a silly story, even if it does point out the fact that women’s lives are policed in so many more ways than men’s lives.

The last story illustrates another metaphor. The family on one side of the valley keeps spying on the family on the other side of the valley. They think the other family has it better than them, and the jealousy is eating away at them. The grandmother tries to be a voice of reason, but even she succumbs when it seems that the grass at the other family’s house is greener. Turns out, the woman in that house has spray painted her lawn green so it would seem greener. We get to see what the one family thinks the other family’s life is like. Then, we switch to the other family and see it has problems, too. The woman knows the family has been keeping tabs on her family, and she sprays the lawn green just to spite them.

Title comes from: The titles are always descriptive of the main story line

If you’re interested in purchasing the book, you can click on the cover image to follow an Amazon affiliate link to the book and thanks for supporting my blog!

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Roar by Cecelia Ahern, Part 8

Last week, I traveled for a long-distance gymnastics meet. If I’m going to spend 7 hours in the car getting somewhere, I’d like to spend more than a day in that place. Then things get busy when you come home. I’m back to my regularly scheduled posts, which means short stories to start the week. I’m getting close to finishing Roar. Here’s a review of the next three stories.

Published: 2018 in the UK, 2019 in the US

“The Woman Who Found the World in Her Oyster

Length: 7 pages

Short summary: A trans woman is invited to a women’s luncheon by her ex-wife

“The Woman Who Guarded Gonads

Length: 5 pages

Short summary: A man is denied a vasectomy because an all-female panel doesn’t think it’s necessary

“The Woman Who Was Pigeonholed

Length: 7 pages

Short summary: Women complain about being known for a single characteristic Continue reading

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