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Short Stories of Love and Loss: Family in Several Stages

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Worth reading 😎

A mixed bag of short stories on love and loss. Some better than others.

In this collection of short stories (all by the same author) Carmel explores the themes of love and loss. While there is a small focus on grief and death, many of the stories focus of different kinds of loss.


In Moving day, I liked the reminiscence caused by moving and leaving behind memories, but didn’t see the significance of the ending. There were several stories where the ending was either disappointing or open to interpretation. One example is Never Love, which I wasn’t sure whether the woman really didn’t (and never did) love her husband. Was the finger squeezing intended to suggest she lied, or was she just trying to break his finger? Either way, it was an odd story. I didn’t hate it; I was more indifferent.


In Making up, I enjoyed the depiction of the narrator’s family, how messed up some of them were and their quirks. It was relatable. Even so, I found parts of it confusing. I don’t know if it was just me missing something, but “Howard, the black retainer who in his early 60s, followed Uncle Morry to Florida 30 years later” didn’t much sense, even after googling what a black retainer is. The sentence makes it sound like a person.


Some of the stories were short and didn’t outstay their welcome, like Short Leave. This showed a couple celebrating their anniversary. In contrast, Stages seemed to go on forever and as a result, lost my interest. It felt like without legal knowledge and an understanding of the jargon, the story was jarring.


Scrambled Eggs was another short snappy story, which ended at the right time and captured both sides of a couple where one was losing the capabilities of their mind.


Denny in D Minor was another story where the ending confused me. I understood the grief for the loss of his way of life, job and who he used to be, but was he drunk and hallucinating, or dead?


The rest of stories alternated in the same way between confusing storylines and/or endings, and successfully capturing different feelings of loss. It was a mixed bag, with some better than others, which is why I have only given this book three stars. Some stories individually would have been 4, while others would have been 2.

Reviewed by

Amanda Steel is a multi-genre author who has just completed her Creative Writing MA. She regularly performs her work at open mic nights around Manchester (UK). Some of her current projects include a book review podcast and a literary magazine.

Moving Day

About the author

I wrote "The Child Who Returned to Her Mother" when I read about the arrest of some Russian spies. The news report puzzled and intrigued me. I wanted more details, but the article was only a cursory recitation. So, I had to imagine the answers to my own questions, which led to this short story. view profile

Published on December 05, 2020

80000 words

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Genre: Literary Fiction

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