The inevitable disappointment of love
I received this as a pre-release digital copy for review from the digital publishers, Open Road Media – so firstly, a word on formatting – this was seamless, I had no sense of the medium I was reading from. Sometimes digitising works well, sometimes it is sloppy and annoying. This was excellent.
So to O Brien, and her misty, mournful, wry resignation about the disappointed nature of love. We all yearn for love, in its various forms – sexual, parental/child, friendship, because of the joy and fulfillment love brings, but inevitably the loving relationships are also fraught with misunderstanding, a sense of isolation, and feelings of hurt disconnection from ‘The Love Object’
This is territory O’Brien inhabits. Her focus is often the sense that men and women move in differently mysterious ways, and despite the best of good intentions, our relationships, starting with high hopes, will always contain ambiguity and minor key sourness and sadness. O Brien in these short stories, starts with this short quote from Aristotle:
“As matter desires form
so woman desires man”
However these are more than just the stories of male and female relationships doomed to disappointment. There are generational stories, mothers and daughters, moving away from each other, both geographically and in time, yet still bound elastically and hurtfully together, the daughters both acknowledging and being irritated by the connection to mother, the mothers feeling slapped and betrayed by the daughters who have turned into strangers, when they were once so close and adoring.
The Love Object may not even be a single person. Sometimes, as in one of my favourite stories, The Rug, the object, a mysterious sheepskin rug gift, holds within it a whole collection of reinforcing beliefs about what life is like, its benevolence and its cruel indifference
I also particularly liked ‘How To Grow A Wisteria’ where lovers are shown as missing each other through things happening at the wrong time. Two dissimilar people, in their attitude to solitude and company, find a relationship fails, where perhaps, had they met at a later stage of their development, they might have travelled on the same road for longer
Both the bookend stories, The Love Object and Paradise, are longer stories describing the subtle nuances in the trajectory of an affair, with Paradise also incorporating that other major focus of female Love – the mother/daughter relationship
I always have a slight problem with the short story format, finding it both too much, and not enough. Reading a book of short stories cover to cover, as if it were a novel, satiates me, and in effect the short story collection would probably be best read over a period of months or years, with gaps between stories
However, as I HAVE read it cover to cover, for review purposes, recommended!
The Love Object