I blew through this short story collection in a few days (it’s true, check my goodreads status!), because the stories were great, the characters were interesting, and the collection wasn’t too long. It’s obvious Banks didn’t struggle to fill the pages in A Permanent Member of the Family; each story is succinct, enjoyable to read and beautifully written.
I read his novel The Sweet Hereafter a few years ago, and really liked it, so I’m glad I picked up the latest by this relatively well-known American writer. Plus, who am I kidding, I’m a book blogger, I just read what people send me, even if I’m not too excited about it to start with: but I’m always ready to be pleasantly surprised.
Which I was with this book, because a few stories have stuck with me for the past few days, my thoughts drifting back to particular scenes or characters every once in a while. One story in particular I found especially relevant and realistic, an occurrence that probably happens every day but people wouldn’t want to admit it. “Snowbirds” describes a woman who has just moved down to Florida with her husband after buying a small condo in Miami, ready to live out the rest of their retirement in comfort and warmth. However, after just a few weeks of living there, her husband has a fatal heart attack after a tennis lesson (so Floridian!) and his wife Isabel is left alone. Immediately she phones her friend Jane who lives in upstate New York, (who was enduring the harsh winter Isabel has just escaped), and as a good friend Jane quickly flies down south to offer emotional support. However, when she arrives, she discovers that Isabel is enjoying her newly single life, she’s almost even giddy. The two friends quickly tie up the loose ends of the husband’s death, and then get down to enjoying life down in Miami, once Jane has gotten over her initial shock at Isabel’s reaction.
What’s great about this story is that Isabel did love her husband, but she was ready to be free of him and explore her independence once more. How many seniors want to admit that they no longer want to be married, but feel like they can’t, or that divorce past your seventies just isn’t worth the hassle? That’s what I love about Banks’s writing, he uncovers these obvious but hidden feelings that we all experience at one point in our life, but have trouble admitting out loud, sometimes even to ourselves.
Oh, for those of you who know me personally and we see each other on a regular basis, shoot me an email if you really want to read a book that I’m reviewing on here, and I’ll give it to you next time we see each other-I don’t keep any of these books after I’ve read them, because I want to share the book wealth! All of the leftovers that don’t get snatched up by my friends are donated, fyi.