Book Review: Small lives, Big World

small lives, big world

From Canada to Devizes, from Central America to Paris, this collection of short stories features extraordinary episodes in the lives of ordinary people; from an Ottawa suburban housewife to a middle-aged art teacher; from a Chinese shopkeeper to a 6 year old train traveller; from a Private in the World War 1 trenches to a girl with an unusually named cat.

The tragedies and despair, the triumphs and joys of everyday life affect men, women and children all over the world. What unites us across languages and cultures, oceans and borders, are our tears and laughter, fears and dreams, and, above all, love and the hope for a new day.

Sometimes funny, sometimes touching, whether set in a tropical backwater, a factory office, the Palais Royal or on the Edinburgh Express, these stories invite you to travel along with the characters and share their lives for just a little while. No matter your destination, be sure to enjoy the journey.

Small Lives, Big World is a quirky and inventive collection that will particularly appeal to well-travelled readers and those with an interest in different cultures.

Amazon UK | Goodreads | Author’s Website | Amazon US

It was a simple thing that I was doing; making a cup of tea to bring to the woman who was softly sleeping in the bedroom. Thousands, maybe millions of people were doing the very same thing at the very same moment. But to me, this morning, it was significant. It was special. It was the first time she had stayed overnight. It was the first time we had fallen asleep in each other’s arms.

This is a collection of ten short stories that travel from Britain to Hong Kong; each tale highlights how relationships between people are formed, cultivated and lost.

Many of the scenarios that are described have aspects that are relatable and I enjoyed the anticipation of where the story would be set next, what people would be encountered and what situation they would find themselves in. However I was expecting a bit more variance in the settings, to me the title suggested that the stories would be set in lots of different countries or cities throughout the globe, whereas in actuality there were many stories set in roughly the same place.

There also seemed to be a real difference in the strength of some of the stories, a few seemed to let down the rest. One in particular dealt with a very heavy issue, and it could have actually made quite a suspenseful novella or novel on it’s own, but I think written as a short story it lost a lot of its power and began to read a little blasé; which I don’t think came across well given the subject matter. There were also some instances where, for me, it took too long to get to the crux of the story. I can understand that the information set up the narrative, but on occasion there was too much of it and honestly I felt not all of it was relevant, that made it difficult for me to get into those stories.

That being said, there was some beautiful writing in this book, the words do manage to weave you into the story. I liked how it looked at stereotypes and their antithesis, as well as differences in culture, and through that illustrated that friendship and families can transcend labels and nationalities. I enjoyed the way it shows how people are connected no matter where you are in the world and most importantly this book did fill me with a sense of adventure.

Of the stories that are included in this book my favourites, the ones I think are worth looking out for, are:

Harper – I liked the humour in this whilst describing a tough situation, how quirky and comical it was, it was something I didn’t expect.

A Good Teacup – Beautifully descriptive and emotive; set at one of my favourite times of year and something that I could very much relate to.

The Christmas Card – Really interesting because it was inspired by a true story. Even though it was sad at parts it was also very real and uplifting.


Thank you to Troubador and Netgalley for the review copy of this book.

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