January 20, 2011
Clare Higgins "higgeroo" (Gloucester, MA)
This review is from: love, murder, etc. (Kindle Edition)Kathleen Valentine's stories are like scrimshaw pieces, encompassing a wealth of detail within a small space. We learn everything about her characters in tales whose compact composition never diminishes their vividness, depth and sensitivity.
From the first few lines of "Sailor's Valentine," the reader is drawn into an intriguing and moving story of two loners, one with a dark secret, and into the world of the fishermen of Port St. Magnus, with all its strong smells, sights and sounds. "The Mermaid Shawl" weaves romance with the realities and hopes of Great Lakes island life, reminding us that knitting is not just a hobby or a job, but an act of love.
"Arthur's Story" surprises us with a change of scene, to turn of the century New York, in a quietly wonderful story of a lost boy that brought tears to my eyes. "Mardi Gras Was Over" shows how our own maturity can take us by surprise. Darker surprises are in store in the "Murder" section, where the intimacy of first-person narrative reveals the dangerous tensions brewing in seemingly placid places, a small town diner, a needlework club, a lighthouse.
Overall, this is a superbly written collection of stories and very much worth having.