A Short Story Collection by A J Spedding

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Helllllllo readers; another day another review and all that. Recently the blog has been feeling really just great. I think us bloggers all go through stages of love/hate with said blog but right now it feels comfortable. I’m also toying with a new feature called the eight minute review. I think it would interesting to see what I could get down, and what would the first important bits to write about. It’s just a thought because my reviews tend to drag on a little and I do read shorter ones that put the review over a lot more succinctly. Today’s review will take a little longer than eight minutes but that is definitely not a bad thing.

My life story… where’s the interest in that, I thought, until I started to put pen to paper… then I realised just how much I had done in my what seemed to be short time in this world. At 93 years of age and finally retired, some would say my life has been interesting, some would say erratic, some would say fulfilling, some would say hectic… I would say immense fun!

I pick up my life story not from the day my dear mother brought me into this world, but from my late teenage years and joining the army; a fortuitous path I took as the army instilled in me a sense of duty, a sense of honour, a sense of purpose that I continued to strive for following demob.

From there I had a few jobs; selling the Encyclopaedia Britannica, later the Junior Britannica, which then led to my own business… selling double glazing! Yes, yes, I hear all the moans and groans now, but in those days it was new… and it was a hard slog!

From my adventures in Zagreb and World War II in Germany and Singapore, doomed flying lessons and scam investments, meeting my beautiful wife and my son’s obsession with wanting a real pony, my wife’s hens, mother-in-law and a gas explosion, to clubbing a chief inspector over the head and transporting him by wheelbarrow to a neighbour’s garden, a silver teapot, a faith healer and Shep…

Yes, it may have been hectic and erratic, it may have worried those around me, but I would definitely say interesting and immense fun!

This review is going to be one of two sides I think; as the blurb suggests it documents the life of our author in little snippets and tales. We see stories before, during and after the war, quirky tales about married life and job interviews and the like. Each is told with camaraderie and wit, written well with little description but told to you as though you are listened to the story as your tucking into your second Yorkshire pudding on a balmy Sunday lunch time. They have a warm tone told with vigour and energy. In terms of length there is a lot variation; the first is a good couple of pages long but as I continued through they seemed to get shorter and shorter, some barely a paragraph in length at times. This makes it the perfect book to dip in and out of without needing to flip back and read a previous telling. Saying this I thought some of the stories could have been a little longer just to flesh them out a bit. A few longer tales would have helped the reader to empathise or understand the writer easier.

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My other two wobbles were I thought the book lacked a system or so. The stories appear to be interwoven so at the beginning I wasn’t sure if it was the same author throughout. Although I understand why it’s been done like this as it doesn’t follow a chronological order I felt it needed something to string the story as a whole together. The second thing, which is a personal thing, was that I didn’t like that so many of the stories seemed to finish with an exclamation mark. It feels a bit juvenile but I am the same, I love a good one when it fits but it felt like it was overdone.

Saying this the book is overall a tongue in cheek sweet number of tales that will honestly make you crack a smile or two. They have a lovely wholesome feeling and are written with lively and telling titles. Overall a book that didn’t make me think too hard but definitely made me smile.

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