BOOK REVIEWS
Assorted Flavours: A Collection of Lesbian Short Stories
Publisher: PD Publishing, Inc.
(March, 2005)
ISBN: 978-0-9754366-2-2

 
Lori L. Lake, Author of Snow Moon Rising, The 'Gun' Series, Stepping Out, The Milk of Human Kindness
Midwest Book Review - June 2005

Author Lois Hart, who has two novels under her belt (COMING HOME and BROKEN FAITH), has tried her hand at a collection of short stories and obtained terrific results. Love and relationships, conflict and oddities abound in this well-written collection of thoughtful and interesting pieces.

With a keen eye toward human nature, Hart's new story collection paints a rich and colorful picture of life on the margins. Two of my favorites are about an angry lesbian daughter in conflict with her mother in "Grandmother's Cup" and a frightening and realization-filled flight from Halifax to Toronto in "Nine Minutes." The book ends with a lovely novella, "The Lion and the Lamb."

Because Hart is an old-fashioned storyteller of the very highest order, each offering is solid and engrossing, relying more upon character development, careful plotting, and seamless writing than on stylistic flash. She writes lovely sentences and scenes, at times elegant, at times whimsical or witty, all of which affect the reader in surprising and delightful ways and often with unexpected consequences. The power of most of these ten stories is cumulative. By the time you arrive at the middle of the volume, you will already be regretting that there is an end in sight.

Each of these stories is dazzling and inventive, with the underlying promise of something utterly unexpected waiting just up ahead. Don't miss this short story collection. It's one of the best of 2005.

 
Arlene Germain - Book Reviewer/Editor
The Independent Gay Writer and The Midwest Book Review - September/October 2005

Lois Cloarec Hart has written an outstanding collection of ten short stories which decidedly display the author's rich and vivid character development, inventive plotting, and original thematic material. These selections vary in length, and each one is a radiant gem to be appreciated. All deal with love and relationships and the inevitable conflicts that occur. At times poignant, bittersweet, and whimsical, Hart's collection is an absorbing, fascinating, and intriguing exploration of the human condition.

Three stories are particularly commendable and memorable. In "9 Minutes," the main character experiences a virtual lifetime as she and her fellow passengers await their fate during an airplane in-flight emergency while traveling to Toronto. For far too many years, this woman has alone visited her daughter, leaving behind her lover and partner-her family. Call it an epiphany or just a wake-up call; she decides she can no longer live her life the way her daughter expects. Following a successful and safe landing, she makes a startling decision given the recent events, and her actions will make the reader smile. The crisp and intelligent dialogue is alone worth the reading.

"Rude" is the story of a woman who finds she possesses a thoroughly fascinating skill. If she says it, it becomes fact. Courtesy, good manners, and the simple niceties of life are becoming farther and farther removed from everyday existence, and this collapse of human decency has compelled this woman to take drastic measures. This reader found Hart's story very reminiscent of some of Rod Serling's innovative and artful Twilight Zone episodes. The reader is reminded that things aren't always as they seem, and Hart's conclusion will leave you both bemused and disconcerted. The development of the characterization for the supersensory woman is deftly and occasionally wryly created.

The third story that this reader found impressive is entitled "Lost and Found." It is all too rare today to find authors writing about the so-called senior lesbian. Here Hart has written a moving and articulate story of love and renewal forty years after the fact. Misunderstandings, lives lived according to the tenets set by others, and realizations that, indeed, life is too short are all themes that Hart handles with a masterful and compassionate eye. Again, the author treats the reader to another relevant and lucid denouement.

Assorted Flavours: A Collection of Lesbian Short Stories is a worthwhile addition to anyone's library. These short stories are told with candor, sentiment, intensity, and acuity, and they provide the reader not only with satisfying and entertaining fiction but also with intelligent and significant substance. Hart has a highly readable and coherent style of writing which, at times, achieves eloquent elegance. This compilation of fiction is a commendable and imaginative presentation of Hart's artistry of the short story.

 
Kathi Isserman
Just About Write - November 2005
Her reviews can also be read at Amazon.com, libertas.com, and The Independent Gay Writer.

Lois Cloarec Hart's Assorted Flavours: A Collection of Lesbian Short Stories is a delightful and engaging read that illustrates the author's talent and range. The ten stories are well written with enough variety for any reader who enjoys terrific fiction.

The fairy tale, "Rude," gives us a woman with special powers who goes a little too far with them and it backfires. The story recognizes that what one person may deem a good cause, another may not. It is truly a fairy tale with a moral, but is never preachy.

"Grandmother's Cup" is a touching story of how a mother's and daughter's love for each other can overcome prejudice. It is a coming out story that brings together rejection, cruelty, and finally acceptance and love. Hart, in just a few pages, makes this turnaround believable. "Walking After Midnight" includes ghosts and spirits with a setting in a cemetery that creates an eerie effect. This story has a few pleasant surprises that keep the reader totally involved. The final story, "Lion and Lamb," is exceptional, inventive, has a sensual erotic ending, and is my personal favorite. Jac and Vic, two best friends, make a bet that within a month Jac can bed Vic's co-worker Christi, who is engaged to be married. The story takes some turns along the way. Jac wants out of the bet, but Vic won't let her. Hart develops convincing characters and a credible plot quickly in "Lion and Lamb" to hold our attention until the final pages, which is no small feat.

Any one of these stories could be expanded into a novel. Hart gives the reader a delicious taste of her genius for telling charming stories. Each one reveals a love story wrapped with a different setting, time or plot. I highly recommend Assorted Flavours for anyone who takes pleasure in reading wonderful fiction.

 
 
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