It was so hot this afternoon that reading some easy-read short stories was all I felt fit for, and these fitted the bill perfectly. They're outtakes and glimpses into the back stories of characters from Wendy Jane's novel, What Jennifer Knows, which I haven't read yet, so I can safely say that they stand completely alone from it. I imagine that anyone who has enjoyed the novel will love to read these, and I'd recommend them even if you haven't.
Like all short story collections they vary in quality, but I'm happy to say that the only variation was from pleasantly readable to one of them which I thought was a masterpiece... I'll get to that!
The stories do not have twists in the tale or neat denouments; at times they're more like sketches, but as I read on I saw how they all tied up, loosely, which I liked very much.
I had three favourites out of the six: The Never Ending Day, about poor Sue who had just had a baby and felt as though she hadn't got a clue what to do, and never would have; I know nothing of parenthood but her despair was so well drawn I lived it with her, and the gaping chasm between her and her awful husband made me want to weep for her. The second one I liked a lot was The Perfect Family, about fourteen year old Blythe, an only child, who goes on holiday with the big, noisy family she envies, only to discover that being part of such a group is not all she'd thought it was....
....which leads me to the title story, What Tim Knows, which is far and away the best. It's told through the eyes of eight year old Tim, who is at his first children's party. I soon realised that he's autistic; I know Wendy Janes has involvement with the Autistic Society, and this story shows such insight, whilst being touching, sad and funny, all at once. It's worth getting the book for this story alone, a terrific piece of writing - big round of applause, Author!