Reviewed by me as a member of Rosie Amber’s Book Review Team.
I have long been an admirer of Wendy Clarke’s short stories; she writes with great delicacy about the deep emotional truths found at the heart of seemingly everyday lives.
Christmas is a time of heightened emotion and this collection explores themes of loneliness, loss and love, all with the constant thread of the real meaning of Christmas running through.
In ‘Finding Santa’ we sympathise with a family stranded at Gatwick Airport as the festive season starts and in ‘All I Want for Christmas’ we feel for the new step-father desperately searching the shops for the elusive must-have-toy late on Christmas Eve.
The most original story of the collection in my opinion is ‘Silent Night’, but my favourite is ‘Christmas Strike’, for its humour and for the tenderness of its resolution.
So, enjoy this wonderful collection, with a mince pie and a cup of tea at your elbow!
WARNING: keep a tissue at the ready too, as Wendy Clarke really knows how to pull at the heart-strings.
Link to Silent Night on Amazon UK
My short story ‘Gloria Crumb, the Crimplene Mum’ is published today in ‘The People’s Friend Special’.
This is how I feel:
Thank you, People’s Friend, for patiently ploughing through my stories and selecting this one!
Note to writers: The People’s Friend is the most generous of magazines and so encouraging to fledgling writers. It will comment on your work and gently steer you in the right direction. Feedback from magazines is rare these days, except from The People’s Friend. They genuinely want to help you develop.
The inspiration for Gloria Crumb came many years ago from my sister. As teenagers, we shared an aversion to crimplene. We thought it was old-fashioned and used to laugh (and not always in a nice way!) at crimplene-clad characters. I filled in a coupon at the back of a magazine which promised to send you various free samples of crimplene so that you could choose the most suitable pattern to cover your sofa – but I filled it in using my sister’s name. She was naturally enough ecstatic to receive the little multi-coloured squares in the post and set about making a patchwork bag, the home for a cardboard cut out figure she named Gloria Crumm (now changed to Crumb). I came across the bag recently at the bottom of my wardrobe and decided it was time for Gloria to feature in a story.
Hope you manage to grab a copy of ‘The People’s Friend Special’ (4.1.2017) and get acquainted with ‘Gloria Crumb, the Crimplene Mum’. You can buy The People’s Friend Special 134 from today from all good newsagents – or a digital version through The People’s Friend website. https://www.thepeoplesfriend.co.uk/category/the-magazine/
My new novel, ‘The Funny Business of Life’, is reduced to 99p/99c on Kindle Countdown from 29th December 2014 to 5th January 2015.
Miriam has a secret, a secret she cannot bring herself to share, a secret that leads to a brutal stabbing on Bonfire Night at St Cecilia’s School.
We travel back in time to investigate the mystery, meeting a host of colourful personalities along the way, including the bumbling Director of Music Lancelot Prokofiev, the predatory french teacher Celeste Dubonnet, Brunhilda the chocolate-loving music secretary, Dorian the sixth former who can understand complicated mathematics but forgets the day of the week and the egotistical conductor, Tristan Proudfoot.
Demons are wrestled and surprises abound before we return to Bonfire Night for the final revelation of a dramatically altered future.
‘The Funny Business of Life’ is a not entirely serious murder mystery and is the second book in the ‘Sing with the Choir’ series. The opening scene is set in 2014, eleven years after the end of the romantic comedy ‘Make a Joyful Noise’ (Book 1 in the ‘Sing with the Choir’ series). Both books can be read as standalone titles.