>> Friday, May 11, 2012
Alethea Black's deeply moving and wholly original debut features a coterie of memorable characters who have reached emotional crossroads in their lives. Brimming with humor, irony, and insights about the unpredictable nature of life, the unbearable beauty of fate, and the power that one moment, or one decision, can have to transform us, I Knew You'd Be Lovely delivers that rare thing—stories with both an edge and a heart.I mentioned in my April wrap-up post that I read 3 different collections of short stories during April, when I don't usually go for them at all. One was great, one was good and one was terrible. This is the great one.
I knew it would be great from the first few pages of the very first story. A man goes to a New Year's Eve party in which he meets a woman who's got a clipboard hanging from her neck. She's too hoarse to speak, and so has to communicate by writing notes. Nothing earth-shattering happens, there are no shocking twists, but I was charmed.
In this and all the other stories (which I'm not going to say anything about, as I loved starting them with no idea of what I was going to get), Black writes with warmth and genuine fondness for her characters. She also writes with perceptiveness. There were several moments when I thought she'd gone straight to the heart of something, in a way I'd never thought of but realised now was exactly right.
It might be a bit of an obvious thing to say, given the title, but the best word for this book really is "lovely". Lovely, charming, beautifully written, low-key but powerful. It was all those things. I loved it so much that I refused to read it all in one go, and allowed myself only a story a day, to make them last.
Oh, and I also loved the little extra at the end, where Ms. Black gives us a bit more, a glimpse behind the scenes, at where each story came from. I wouldn't have thought this would be a good idea, fearing it might risk the stories losing their magic, but nope, they very definitely didn't!
MY GRADE: An A-.