10 Nov Winter Lights by Deborah Jenkins
A heartwarming collection of seasonal short stories
I do love a short story – I’ve read thousands in my time, having been fiction editor on My Weekly magazine for many years. There’s a real art to bringing characters, plots and emotions together in fewer than 2000 or 3000 words, and not all authors can do it.
Deborah Jenkins is an exception. I first read her novel Braver over a year ago, and really enjoyed it, but how would I fare with her short story collection?
Reader, I loved it! Ten short stories set in, but not confined to, the fictional village of Hanford introduce us to a cast of loosely interconnected characters.
Each faces challenges, whether it’s Amy’s struggles with her rebellious teenage daughter Mia, Duncan’s dilemma over his sister’s Christmas present, or Sunil’s exasperation at his father Ram’s refusal to modernise their restaurant business.
Whether they know it or not, all are looking for enlightenment in their lives, and each person finds it through the kindness of others, random strangers who help them see the way forward in their lives.
There is a seasonal feel to each story, making this the ideal Christmas read.
Over all, the stories introduce themes of romance, friendship, kindness and caring, as well as tackling more difficult subjects like grief, depression and loneliness.
I found myself laughing and crying over them – this author portrays raw human emotion with skill and deep empathy, bringing characters young and old to life on the page.
Though these are short stories, and each stands completely alone, with just the final two stories bringing the characters from each one together, to show resolution.
This book is a lovely reminder, at a time when it seems the world is falling apart, that 99.9 percent of humanity cares deeply about the rest, and is willing to extend a helping hand.
My favourite story has to be Once Did Orla Davis, for its gentle humour and empathy as young Tyler survives primary school challenges thanks to his loyal friend Orla.
But there is not one that I did not enjoy, and I read the whole book over one evening.
It’s up there with all my favourite, more traditional Christmassy reads – do give it a go.
Winter Lights by Deborah Jenkins is published by Fairlight Books in paperback and ebook
About the Author
Deborah Jenkins is a freelance writer and teacher with interests in education, mental health and community. She writes educational articles, textbooks, short stories and longer fiction. Her debut novel, Braver, was published by Fairlight Books in June 2022 and shortlisted for the Writers’ Guild Best First Novel 2023 and the Society of Authors’ ADCI Literary Prize 2023.
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