My rating: 5 of 5 stars
(Reviewer’s note – I posted my review over on Amazon US and Amazon UK some weeks back, but neglected to post here. LETTING GO is a collection of short fiction that I recommend without reservation. I would also mention that I received no compensation for this review… it is based solely on the merits of the book. Thank you. vmls)
Someone once said that “fear and regret are the cruelest prison… a prison of our own construct… one we put ourselves in.”
Regret is just that… a cruel prison… one we build from our own shattered dreams and lost hopes, where ‘why’ is replaced with an endless litany of ‘should haves’ and ‘wished I’d done the other’ and ‘if only’. But, life doesn’t always give one a second chance, as we find out in Letting Go… a collection of short stories from Victoria Watson.
Victoria Watson is an impressive writer… a great talent who uses her keen insight and observations of the human condition to draw with words… sad, dark, sometimes horrific, and heart-breakingly poignant pictures of humanity… troubled souls lost in despair… their hopes and dreams washed away in the rain of their own tears.
Victoria brings a depth to her characters and a level of emotion… completely un-contrived and so real that the reader feels almost as if they were in the same room, that they were reliving the very experience on the pages before them… which, in the words of another writer I admire, rivals that of Anita Shreve.
In Letting Go, Victoria writes with a strong voice and uses a stunning descriptive narrative style that draws the reader in from word one and carries them through, completely captivated and totally absorbed in her tale. More than once, I had to pause while reading her stories and catch my breath… this is some serious writing here, people… wow! And, more than once I had to set aside the book… a bit over-whelmed at the emotional response Victoria’s writing brought out in me.
Not to take anything away from the other stories, but there were a couple that really stood out to me… touched something…
“Bye, Bye Baby” is a heart-wrenching story of loss… one I wished I’d skipped when I was through (this is a testament to your writing, Victoria; it is by no means a critique)… written with such raw emotion, the reader can’t put down even if they wanted to. Tina and I are ‘working on’ our first child and I should probably leave stories like this alone. Make no mistake though… “Bye, Bye Baby” may just well be the best written of all eight stories.
In “I Should Have Seen It Coming”, Victoria tells a remarkable tale of deceit and what happens when fate ‘deals the cards’… the just rewards received only a part of the regret visited upon a woman who dared to tempt powers she had no comprehension of. In spite of the protagonist’s deceit, the reader finds empathy for her… due in large part to the strong voice in Victoria’s writing.
“Inside” is a reflective, metaphorical tale where the reader is drawn into the emotional past of the protagonist and lulled into a sense of nostalgia… until past regrets catch up and life’s tragedy is unveiled before us.
I highly recommend Letting Go. This is truly a ‘must-read’ collection of stories of the human condition. The ‘twists’ in each tale are perfectly executed.
Each and every story is wonderfully written… evocative and a reminder to the reader not to judge others too severely, but to stop and reflect back on our own lives at how easily things might have turned out different. A life could turn on something as innocuous and innocent as not looking in the back seat before stepping in one’s car.
And remember… one can’t rebuild a life if they spend their days kicking through the rubble of regrets.
Thank you, Victoria, for a truly memorable collection of prose. These stories will stay with me long after I have read them. That is a good mark of how well-written a story is and the caliber of the writer.
In closing, I wish you much success in all your endeavors.
Veronica Marie Lewis-Shaw
5 May 2012
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