Wednesday, January 17, 2024

4. The Japanese Girl by Winston Graham

This is a book of short stories that I picked up entirely on the basis of the cover design, a classic 1970s Fontana photo cover paperback.  These stories were not my usual jam, but almost all of them were very readable and kind of fun.  Graham writes with a rich yet easy prose.  The themes often involve chance encounters between men and women, relationships that get delayed or strained somehow with hints of the supernatural.  Many of the stories have very light twists at the end.  I've said before that I am not a big fan of short stories because I prefer a longer and more involved narrative.  Because of the exploration of consistent themes, this collection was somehow more satisfying than I expected, even if many of the individual stories were somewhat light or ended ambiguously.  

The only story that I didn't really like was the last one, "But for the Grace of God", which was about another Jesus who was a contemporary of the real Jesus.  I find Christianity super boring and I didn't really get what the point of this one was about.  Some of the highlights were the titular "The Japanese Girl" about a frustrated bank clerk who plans to steal from his bank, give it to his mistress and then do the time to get out to be with her.  They share a love of travelling and plan on taking the money and go around the world  when he gets out.  Things go wrong, of course, but not in the way you would expect.  I also enjoyed "The Basket Chair" about a wealthy director of a paranormal society with a heart condition convalescing at his niece's who encounters the paranormal for the first time.  It had such an obvious twist but somehow I was totally fooled.  Graham is a good writer.  "The Cornish Farm" was also a great little horror story about a couple who purchase a hobby farm and discover it has a nasty past. 

Graham is best known for his historical Poldark series, about which I know nothing.  I see he also wrote several thrillers, which I will definitely check out.  Hmm, actually I may have to read the Poldark series too.

No comments: