A debut collection of short stories revolving mainly around the lives of academic and professional women.
Each of the eight stories here is told from a different woman’s point of view. Readers may find some of these stories slight, as they offer little evidence as to why these ladies are friends; the only thing many of them seem to have in common is the place they work. Most often, the women are catty with and about each other. For example, in the first story, “The Game,” a woman of means falls in love and marries a man who, in the eyes of her professor friends, is obviously beneath her. Although there are suggestions of physical and emotional spousal abuse, the story only notes them briefly and doesn’t pursue them in depth. However, in the collection’s more engaging stories, Stanley delves into her protagonists’ lives and the worlds they live in. In “The Ladies in the Pool, a Tableau,” for example, the author sketches the lives of senior participants in a water-aerobics class at an orthopedic clinic. In one of the most enjoyable stories, “And the Band Played On,” a paralegal, Jill, attends an associate’s wedding and observes the groom’s wild, unpredictable sister Emily causing chaos during the festivities. Although not very much happens to Jill personally during the course of the story, the author here effectively brings to life the people and places that Jill encounters.
A pleasant, if uneven, collection that at its best creates engaging portraits of its characters’ lives.