Reviewed by Angela McLaurin
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Synopsis from Goodreads:
This collection of short stories by Karin Cox explores the choices and compromises we make in love, and how they can trap or liberate us depending on our mindset. Each story comes with an unexpected twist that makes reading all the way to the end imperative.
In "Cage Life," first published by [untitled] magazine in 2010 as "Still Life," a young mum feels like a prisoner in her own home. Her decision to escape the bonds of marriage and motherhood, just for a few hours, has unexpected consequences that force her to a re-evaluate what it really means to be loved, to be married, and to be free.
In "The Usurper," unconditional love is explored within the boundaries of age and longing. Basil is in his eighties, with an illustrious career in law enforcement behind him, when he meets Carla — a beautiful, energetic and much younger mistress. But when Simon appears on the scene, can Basil keep her or does she, in fact, keep him?
It is not often that I read short stories. I usually prefer full length novels that dig deeply into the lives and events surrounding characters. This book, composed of two short stories, took me by surprise. I had a hard time rating it because of my usual genres of choice, but I have to say that Karin Cox did not disappoint. This was a quick read, taking me only an hour to finish. These short stories were thought-provoking and eloquently written looks into human emotions and pain.
The first story, Cage Life, explored the emotions of a young woman stuck in a lifeless marriage with a man only concerned with his affluence and wealth. She struggles with her day-to-day trials of being a young mother in a less than fulfilling marriage and life. When a friend from her past returns for a visit, she discovers in more ways than one how fragile and precious life really is. Even though this was a short story, Karin did not leave me wanting for details and in the end I was clutching my tissue box and wondering how my heart had broken so quickly without pages and pages of the stories I’m used to reading.
The second story, The Usurper, was written from the perspective of a much older man who was aging quickly and found himself involved with a younger care giver from his nursing home. She takes him home to live with her and care for him, and despite the age differences, he is finally happy with his life. As his condition worsens and she brings home a younger “friend,” their relationship falls apart. I once again was torn to pieces and left a little baffled at the end of this story. Karin’s words were pure poetry and the ending left me scratching my head trying to figure out how she so brilliantly took me by surprise.
These stories are dark and haunting. Though you will pass through the pages quickly, you will not be left without deep emotions. Even if short stories are not your usual choice, give this book a chance. It speaks volumes to be able to pack such a punch into so few words.