Two novellas and a short story that address ordinary lives with grace and efficiency.
In the first, titular novella in Sharpe’s (The Danger is Seduction, 2013, etc.) collection, a group of older, divorced female friends commiserate about men, marriage, grown children, spirituality and the future of their intertwining lives in Santa Fe, N.M. Natalie is the sexy, confident one; Joey, the narrator, is cautious and reflective; Dana often makes wise quips; Juliet is the mystic searcher; and Nan is simply down-to-earth. As Joey dips a toe into the dating pool, she finds that romance in middle-age is as tricky a terrain as the hiking trails around the famed, artsy city. When Nan suffers a heart attack, her friends rally around her in a show of heartwarming support. The second novella, Dangling Woman, concerns Penelope, whose husband recently fell from a chairlift and, after a period of unconsciousness, died. The local prosecutor was a friend of the deceased and has dreams of making it big in Washington, D.C., so he goes after Penelope, accusing her of pushing her husband from the lift after a spat. Afraid for her future, Penelope finds that her own children aren’t the unwavering supporters she assumed they would be, and that politics in Santa Fe may be more complex than she anticipated. The short story, “Senior Moments,” is a gentle meditation on the relationship between a grandmother and her grandson, in which the child’s youthful energy manages to both revitalize and exhaust the older woman. Sharpe’s prose style is straightforward and easy to read, and her dialogue is refreshingly believable. The descriptions of New Mexico’s landscape and various flora and fauna (“The slopes she can see from where she stands are still in pristine winter whites”) give the stories a unique flavor and also a universality that makes the characters’ stories familiar and relatable.
An honest, entertaining trio of stories that focus on women’s trials and friendships.