This is National Short Story Week, so I've picked up a new collection of stories by Salley Vickers to dip into over the next few days.
Aphrodite's Hat is all about love - all aspects, degrees, circumstances of love - and it opens with Mrs. Radinsky, a story of attraction and resolution beginning in the unlikely setting of a residents' association meeting, while Join Me for Christmas, about a new, second marriage, starts straightforwardly enough but proceeds to a surprising ending.
Beautifully rounded and encapsulating a whole world in just ten or twelve pages, it's that 'essential' quality which makes good short stories such a pleasure to read. I'm well acquainted with Salley Vickers' skill as a novelist having read Miss Garnet's Angel and Instances of the Number 3, and I'd have said that her subtle, finely honed prose would suit the more abbreviated medium very well; so far, it does indeed, so much so that I'll even forgive her the following (from the eponymous Mrs. R):
"I'll go so far as to say it's a Virgo. You can't trust Virgos. They come across all goody-two-shoes but they're vicious underneath."