Participating in the Australian Women Writers Challenge has set me on a bit of a short story kick, which is fantastic because I didn’t read nearly enough before. Short stories fit perfectly into snatched reading time, but they also allow writers to showcase their talent and to put out there ideas that maybe don’t have quite enough punch to carry a full length novel. Short stories focus on a single idea/theme and I find that means it lingers with me long after I’ve finished reading a good short story.
A Taste of Life and Love in Australia by Margaret Lynette Sharp is a collection of gentle, heartwarming stories that quietly reflect on life.
There is an effective simplicity to Margaret’s writing that means she, as author, doesn’t get in the way of her characters connecting with readers. Lines like “…the deep, limitless blue of our summer sky” from the short story, “A Storm in Summer”, draw you into a personal experience.
I can’t put my finger on why these stories feel distinctly Australian to me (I’m a woeful reviewer!), but they do. I think it may be the easy rhythm of the dialogue. It feels like natural speech to me as an Australian reader. That being said, as I read the collection I found myself searching for an elusive memory of where I’ve read such pleasant, companionable short stories before — the answer is the UK magazine, The People’s Friend. Margaret’s stories have the same compassionate, entertaining humanity.