Friday, November 6, 2020

And Then She Shines: A Collection of Novelettes, by Helen Libby

Helen Libby, November 2019

This is a collection of five novellas, each featuring a woman at a critical turning point in her life. She's got a major decision to make, and some serious work to do to get to her decision and then make it work.

Ruby has gotten herself deeply in debt with what she's been reluctant to admit is a shopping addiction. Now, though, she's looking at her total debt, and the piles of clothes and handbags and shoes crowding all her storage, and less than half of which she's ever worn. She's ashamed, and embarrassed, and wants to resolve her problem and pay off her debt before anyone, especially her boyfriend, ever knows. But that's impossible. Will David be able to forgive her deception when he finds out? Can she forgive herself?

Anna has a boyfriend she loves dearly, but he's been suffering from serious depression for the last couple of years. And now he's told her he doesn't love her, has never loved her. She knows it's the depression talking, but what can she do? Can she save the relationship? Should she even try? A trip to Paris gives her some much-needed perspective, but she still needs to decide what she can do.

Laura has lost both her adoptive parents, and knows her birth mother gave her up, but doesn't know why. She's come to feel that anyone she loves will leave her--which is a really bad basis for a relationship with gorgeous, sweet, lovable Rob. When things start to get serious between them, she tries to pull back. But he's not letting go, and she's not able to. Can she resolve her issues, or is she doomed to make a constricted and unhappy life for herself?

After a head injury, Ella has lost ten years of her memory. She's married to a man who knows everything about her, while she only knows that he's her husband. She's struggling to find herself, between the memories she does have, and the years she has no memories of at all. Then she learns that, as much as he loves her, things weren't by any means perfect in their relationship before the accident. She needs to find herself, before she can decide where to go with her marriage. (I liked all these stories, but this is the one in which a dog, a rescue cocker spaniel, plays a significant role. Yes, the dog lives--and prospers!)

Cassie is the one who annoys me, somewhat. She's married to a man she loves very much, and who loves her. He was honest from the beginning that he really didn't want to have kids, and she didn't feel any strong urge to be a mother, and agreed. Now she's hit forty, and feels unfulfilled, and thinks maybe what's missing in her life is a baby. To be clear, she hasn't realized that she really, really feels an urge for motherhood she didn't feel before. She's feeling unfulfilled, is casting around for reasons, and thinks maybe it's a baby she needs. Her husband is not finding this persuasive, and she says she needs some space to work this out. Not a bad idea! So he takes a temporary assignment in Milan, which is a little more space than she had in mind, and was maybe a bit impulsive on his part. But now Cassie starts really looking at her life and her choices, which is what she's needed to do all along, and I started to really like her. Go for it, girl!

They're all interesting, engaging, thoughtful, and ultimately satisfying stories. They're about women facing their weaknesses, and embracing their strengths, and making their lives better.


I received a free electronic galley of this book from the publisher, and am reviewing it voluntarily.

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