Top positive review
great individual short stories, but got a little repetitive as a collection
16 September 2018
I generally love Curtis Sittenfeld’s books for their brilliant written style, relatable characters, and snapshots of the high life. But I was pretty disappointed with her previous offering Eligible, so I was excited to pick up this book of short stories and find her seemingly back on form. I devoured the first few stories, loving the insight into people’s lives and identifying with the various heroines. But then I started to lose momentum.
One of the first stories is from the point of view of Hilary Clinton, thinking back to her early years while standing for President. And in a way, she’s sort of the archetypal Sittenfeld heroine. Well-educated, driven, and groomed, but a little awkward in public and not always well-liked. It’s an archetype to which I can easily relate – as I suspect is the case for a lot of the author’s fans. I absolutely loved that Clinton story, but as the book went on, a lot of the story’s leads blurred into each other, like a collection of sub-Hilary figures. And their combined self-doubt, so-so marriages, and bad decisions, while interesting in isolation, started to feel a bit depressing when piled on top of each other.
I would absolutely recommend this to anyone who loves Sittenfeld’s other books, particularly Prep, or to anyone who identifies with some of the descriptors I’ve used here. She’s a fantastic writer and individually, they are nearly all strong stories. I’d just have liked to see either more variation or else fewer, more fleshed out stories.