by Cynthia Chow
Details at the end of this review on how to enter to win a copy of My Troubles. There is also a link to purchase the book.
The characters who were introduced in the full-length novel, Lawn Order, actually have been appearing in short stories since 1990, and here readers will have the fun in this collection that perfectly captures the rather dysfunctional relationship between fifty-something sisters Margaret and Bitsy. A former investment banker, Margaret gave up her career to return home to East Tennessee to run a new and used bookstore. She has created a very satisfying life for herself, surrounded by her beloved books and having the periodic company of a charming alcoholic. Well, it would be satisfying if not for the guerrilla attack visits by her sister Bitsy, whose domineering attitude never shies away from issuing edicts on how Margaret should be living her life.
Readers can dive into any of these tales in any order, and in fact we may benefit from the small bits as it prevents us from hoping that the last tale might be of Bitsy’s murder. Bitsy’s imperiousness can be wearing, so the short installments instead allow the humor to shine.
Bitsy’s illogical but ever-present irritation shows though in “Ah, Paradise,” where her brow-beaten husband finds escape in a fishing shack. The humor blends with sympathy as well in “Missing Something,” as Margaret fears that their elderly cousin Leona may be finally reaching the limits of her age. My favorite is the story that is saved for last. In “Judging Others,” the author has fun when Margaret is forced by Bitsy into judging a short story contest. The meta humor is of course enjoyable, and the sly wit of the author always prevents the stories from becoming too dark or depressing. By having only ten short stories the author ensures that each one is strong and worthy of being included, resulting in a collection of always funny, and often heart-warming, tales of mystery.
To enter to win a copy of My Troubles, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “Troubles,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen March 28, 2015. U.S. residents only. If entering via email please include your mailing address, and if via comment please include your email address.
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