“Love Begins In Winter” by Simon Van Booy

This is a collection of short stories from Welsh author Simon Van Booy. The five stories are linked by the theme of love, but also by the theme of childhood. With these two themes in common, it’s probably not unsurprising that the book is emotional and affecting, beginning the heart-breaking dedication at the start of the book.

The collection opens with the longest story, Love Begins In Winter, a tale of grief, and love, and includes an incredible depiction of the recital given by the narrator, a cello soloist. Next is Tiger, Tiger which considers the effects of the relationships of parents on children, followed by The Missing Statues with a different view on a similar theme. The Coming and Going of Strangers is the fourth story, and my favourite in the collection, following Walter who is a wonderfully, romantic hero. Finally, The City of Windy Trees, is another uplifting tale, which shows how seemingly inconsequential meetings make an ordinary life extraordinary.

While some of the best novels are the stories of peoples lives, for me, the best short stories are the glimpses and snapshots of the incidents, emotions and relationships that define an individual, and although I haven’t read a huge amount of short stories, these are some of the best I’ve encountered. The writing is beautifully considered, lyrical and expressive. but in the sparse style which suits the short story format. Although it’s a short 226 page book, I took a good few days to read it, as it requires the time to savour the words on the page, but I can definitely recommend it.