Thursday, November 15, 2012

JD's Review of 'A Life Unpredicted' by Joanne Phillips

This is an elegantly-written collection of short stories by Joanne Phillips, best-selling author of 'Can’t Live Without’.

The stories pull at the emotions but without undue sentimentality. Ms Phillips engages her reader without the angst-ridden accretions which cluster around so much of today’s writing on matters of the heart. Instead she leaves her reader to draw their own conclusions. Her characters are quickly and deftly drawn, and she proceeds without ado straight to the nub of matters.

I detected a unifying theme around the tales: one of loss. Whether it is the loss of a loved one (‘A Life Unpredicted’ and ‘A Careful Man’), loss of perspective (‘Joy’ and ‘So Many Children’), loss of a relationship (‘No Matter What’, ’One to Keep’and ‘Dear Jean’), the writer mines deep feelings while herself maintaining a sense of detachment. It is interesting to note that her full-length novel – the first three chapters of which are included with this collection – begins with the main protagonist losing her home in a fire. The tales are not, however, morose. Far from it.

Ms Phillips’ writing is spare and direct, with scarcely a word wasted. This is just how short pieces should be written, in my not-so-humble opinion.

I enjoyed ‘A Life Unpredicted’. The only question for me now is: Can a guy raised in the North East of England bring himself to read Ms Phillips’ chick lit novel? Hmmn. I did enjoy the first three chapters ...

A Life Unpredicted and other stories


  1. JD,

    Enjoyed very much your review of Joanne Phillip's "A Life Unpredicted." Being a rather emotional kind of guy I'm propelled to take a look-see. You take a thick lens into your reviews and quantify themes that are perhaps unstated...a quality that appeals to this writer. Were it my review I would be most pleased, as I'm sure Ms Phillips must be.

    You do your job well, my friend. Those 'angst- ridden accretions' you mention? I'm frightened if you are reviewing some of my books. Methinks there might be a few 'clusters' formed therein, although, if I may hasten to say so myself, damned well written!:-)

    Sorry, Joanne, this is your review and I'm pontificating like an arse...

    Great review from a man who never disappoints.

    Billy Ray

  2. Thanks BR. This is a really good, sharply-observed short-story collection. I thoroughly recommend it. FYI I'm half-way through 'Mama's Madness' and enjoying it. How much? You'll have to wait for the review :)