OUR LOVE COULD LIGHT THE WORLD
by Anne Leigh Parrish
Linked short stories
She Writes Press, June 3, 2013
Paperback, 192 pages
Source: TLC Book Tours
I’ve really been enjoying linked short stories lately, and Our Love Could Light the World is an enjoyable collection of stories centering on the Dugans, a scrappy down-at-the-heels family in the New York Finger Lakes region.
The setting is what attracted me to this book when one of the lovely ladies at TLC Book Tours asked if I would like to review it. I live near the Finger Lakes and have many happy memories of summer vacations in rented cottages on one of the lakes, so I was thrilled to read a book set in this beautiful area. The location isn’t actually a major component of these stories, but I liked them nonetheless.
In one of the first stories, Lavinia, the mother, leaves her sloppy, out-of-work husband Potter for a wealthy older man named Chip. The children follow her but have trouble adjusting to life with their new stepfather, who isn’t terribly interested in parenting. Each story progresses forward in time so that this book almost feels like a novel, except that instead of having a single plot arc, it follows a few characters as they grow and their relationships change.
I enjoyed following the development of some of the characters — most notably, Angie, the oldest daughter. I loved reading about her growth from a troubled, confused teen to an assured, self-reliant woman. It was also nice to see how Potter gradually changes and improves himself in the years after his wife leaves him. Lavinia, however, is a rather sad character. Although she chooses to abandon an unhappy marriage for a man with money, her decision never seems to make her happy. She has an easy life, a nice house, and no money worries, but nothing about her new life fulfills her.
We also meet the twins, Maggie and Marta, who take a dare too far; Anabelle, a classmate with Down Syndrome; Potter’s sister Patty and her partner, Murph, who live in Montana and take Angie in after an incident at home; and Timothy, the oldest son, who winds up with a broken heart after his college fraternity requires him to seduce a virgin.
I thought Our Love Could Light the World was a compassionate look at the life of a broken family. The writing didn’t blow me away, but Parrish does an excellent job portraying the various family members as they fumble, learn, and either grow or stagnate.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher via TLC Book Tours in exchange for my honest review.