Sunday 1 February 2015

The challenge – 13 short stories in 13 days–No. 13 and my final thoughts

The American Lover


Rose Tremain

Story 13 – 21st-Century Juliet

Decided not to wait till tomorrow to read the final instalment in this short story collection and was swept along at break neck speed by a modern day Romeo and Juliet.

Written as a diary and sounding a bit like Adrian Mole meets Bridget Jones, Tremain picks up the pace with this final story and changes tone to be quick, sharp, young and modern.   Casting Juliet as a thirty year old spinster whose upper class family is going broke and who are about to loose their home “Capell House” , “Peregrine “Perry” Paris  as the money-bearing suitor, and Tremain nicknames Juliet's employer, the philistine Aussie Jimmy Anselme, Nursey because “he massages the egos of the rich and famous” . Romeo becomes an illegal migrant builder from Moldovia  letting Tremain bring economic migration, immigration and racialism into play. Perhaps Nursey is the one transfer that works less well.

However, I love it when Tremain goes for this re-telling/ re-working/ re-imagining style which she carries on on each occasion with great skill and aplomb. I agree with the Spectator reviewer “The most successful stories are the three which reimagine key scenes from other writers’ lives or work”. This is when she is at her best namely No.13 - 21st-Century Juliet, No. 8 – The Housekeeper and No. 3 – The Jester of Astapovo.

ashramblings verdict – 5* I thoroughly enjoyed the experienced of reading stories by such a craftsman as Tremain and contrary to some reviewers opinion that these are unconnected stories I think the theme of “doing one’s duty” does tie them together. The fact that I couldn’t wait to read the final story says it all. Highly recommended.

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