Sharp, incisive fictional stories about women finding unknown strengths as they battle with the powerful men in their lives.
Sharpe (Baraka: The Indus Valley Poems, 2012, etc.) treats her readers to a novella and six short stories in this thought-provoking collection. In the titular piece, Elena Swift, a diplomat, receives her new assignment: working at the embassy in Lagos, right next to Bar Beach. As she’s been warned, her new surroundings are replete with danger and unseemly characters. Yet she’s determined to remain brave and stick it out, though her will is tested almost daily since danger seems to lurk behind every corner in her new neighborhood. In a story told in snippets that offer glimpses of the dark life in Bar Beach, Elena’s bravery shines through as she reaches out to the locals, eventually feeling at home in her dark surroundings. In “The Honeymoon is Over,” two journalists honeymooning in Seville have their peace disrupted when a thug on a motorcycle snatches the wife’s purse. The moment shakes the couple, causing tension that ruins their good spirits and raises questions about the role of protector in relationships. Relationships and roles are explored further in “Indigo and Pepper Soup” as Ellen, an entrepreneur who designs her own jewelry, and her husband, Jim, navigate their conflicting needs. Ellen’s designs are attracting notice, but Jim feels overshadowed and skeptical of her attention. This point of contention is echoed in “Immersion,” where once more, a woman’s repressed yet vital creativity emerges despite a man’s efforts. Tony, who’s “generous with things, but not with time,” is inconsiderate of Marybeth’s needs; despite her protests, he puts his career before hers. But this soon unlocks the buried writer inside her. Told with vivid detail and compelling characters, each short story shows a woman emancipating herself. The fresh, inspiring tales celebrate the importance of freedom and the role it plays in a woman’s life.
An impressive collection that realistically depicts women finding their way in a man’s world.