Home entertainment

‘I Wish Someone Were Waiting for Me Somewhere’ by Anna Gavalda

(Vintage, $24.99)Anna Gavalda made a big splash with her novel, Hunting and Gathering, which was translated from her native French into English and sold a million copies. I was looking forward to seeing Audrey Tatou star in the film version but I must have blinked and missed it, which is a shame because I loved the novel. However, I have been able to console myself with this collection of short stories from the same author and thankfully, that’s no booby prize.

I like a short story to have a beginning, a middle and an end and these definitely deliver, although each of the first dozen is vastly different from the others so they are far from pedestrian. In the first story, a chic Parisian woman discovers a flaw in her otherwise perfect dinner date. In the second, a pregnant woman holds the future at bay while she helps at her cousin’s wedding. In a later one, an ageing rock star finds his perfect soulmate. Later still, a driver’s lapse in concentration on a busy road has disastrous consequences and not just for him.

The stories all leave you wanting more, yet have given you enough in the first place, which is a pretty cunning skill when we’re only talking a few pages in some instances. Then, to top it all off, the final story, Someone I Loved, is more of a novella. Chloe has been left by her husband and is understandably heartbroken and bitter. Her father-in-law whisks her and her two children to the countryside to get away from it all, which she finds a little odd as they’ve barely spent a moment together. As the days unfold and wine loosens their tongues, however, Chloe finds out what has made this awkward man the way he is, wherein lies the secret to her moving on. Someone I Loved is almost all conversation and while it’s probably not a conversation a New Zealand daughter-in-law and father-in-law would have, you can certainly imagine two French people having it. Not surprising, in the circumstances!

Related stories