After researching relationships and intimacy, debut author Jory (Teacher Family Studies/Berry College) created the fictional town of Lovejoy in order to “explore what it means to love and be loved in our contemporary times.”
Throughout these short stories, Jory’s recurring cast explores the flaws that often bedevil relationships of all sorts. Liliana, a traumatized wife who recently had a mastectomy, has trouble dealing with jealousy now that her husband spends so much time with his sexy personal assistant, Alexa. Johanna, born with ambiguous genitalia, finally lets a handsome doctor into her life only to discover that he has a major secret. The bitter, self-pitying Clare refuses to take responsibility for either her relationship with her parents or the fatal car accident she caused. Maria transforms her body and temperament after her 35th birthday to bring some danger and excitement back into her life. Lastly, straightforward accountant Tony comes to understand sacrifice and lasting commitment when everyone tells him his beloved wife is gone, but he knows better. The stories all intertwine. Maria is Alexa’s sister; Clare’s lawyer is Tony’s brother; and they all gravitate toward the local coffee shop. These connections give the impression of a larger narrative, but they never deliver anything more than fleeting references. Jory, a professor and couples counselor, alternates between a rushed, present-tense narration and first-person accounts from characters’ diary entries and letters—leaving many elements to feel underdeveloped. For example, skating over the development of Johanna and Brendan’s relationship, Jory writes, “The next year flies by, peppered with many falling-in-love firsts.” While there are interesting ideas here that may spark introspection, the collection doesn’t satisfactorily address the questions it raises.
Interesting characters checked by a vague, self-help style of writing.