Sample Saturday – suburban women, Henry James’s sister, and short stories


Sample Saturday is when I wade through the eleventy billion samples I have downloaded on my Kindle. I’m slowly chipping away and deciding whether it’s buy or bye.

The Lives of Women by Christine Dwyer Hickey

Why I have it: Read a review on A Life in Books.

Summary: The lives of a group of average (but relatively isolated) suburban women are rocked when an American divorcee and her daughter move in.

I’m thinking: Yes, ace opening chapter.

Alice in Bed by Judith Hooper

Why I have it: On Catherine’s Books of 2015 list.

Summary: Letter-writing between the Jameses (Alice James and her brother William). Plus an afterword,“What was Wrong with Alice?,” an analysis of the varied psychological ills of the James family and Alice’s own medical history.

I’m thinking: Yes (because Henry James).

A Manual for Cleaning Women by Lucia Berlin

Why I have it: Because it rated highly in 2015.

Summary: 43 short stories.

I’m thinking: No. Only one story in the sample (the rest was intro notes) and it didn’t grab me.

8 responses

  1. Kate…I’ve been reading “A Manual For Cleaning Women” this week, and while I’ve enjoyed many of the stories, I’m beginning to feel like, “well, I’ve read a dozen, I’m not so sure I’m going to read the other 30-something stories”. I’ve sampled my fill of the talented Lucia Berlin.

    The stories are apparently semi-autobiographical, as Berlin admits to making them better to suit her own creative needs, and because changing the names and circumstances do in fact protect the innocent, and the guilty. Being poor, alcohol dependent, a single mother, a servant to the wealthy, a rambling gal, is not a life for a sissy. And, Lucia Berlin was no sissy.

    • Yeah, I pretty much decided I didn’t need 43 stories… Suspect that if I knew a lot about the author’s life I’d enjoy spotting the autobiographical elements but as I don’t, I thought I’d give it a miss (also influenced by the fact that I’ve come off a disappointing short story collection).

  2. Good to read your thoughts on A Manual for Cleaning Women – I’m not always a giant fan of the short story but because it has had so much press I’m feeling the pressure to read it… think I can confidently skip it now.

    • My last few short story collections have been a real let down. I have a few more in my TBR stack (from authors whose novels I’ve enjoyed) but certainly won’t be adding any more at this stage!

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