Seven Tales in A Snow Garden & Other Stories by Rachel Joyce

Even though Christmas has been over for almost a month, I was still completely fueled by its spirit when I came to pick up this book last week. It’s a well-known fact that we don’t have winter here so I decided that it would be nice to pamper myself with something snowy hence my choice of reading material fell on A Snow Garden & Other Stories by Rachel Joyce, a book I got as a birthday gift from a friend a few years ago.

This book is a collection of seven short stories all take place during Christmas days: A Faraway Smell of Lemon, The Marriage Manual, Christmas at the Airport, The Boxing Day Ball, A Snow Garden, I’ll Be Home for Christmas, and Trees. Even if the stories are entwined around a few characters knowing each other, they are individually focused on different aspects while also bearing a similar topic: family.

I usually find short stories refreshing: a quite needed short break after consuming hundred of pages containing the same characters. Rather than engaging me with something bubbly and lively like what I had expected in the beginning, almost every story in this book explored the world of broken relationships, mostly marriage. Nevertheless, a part of me went through each story willingly while the other part felt left out and rather depressed.

I was wondering what my mind hoped to say the loudest the entire time. The stories had the potential to be amazing if they were more explored, but still I appreciated the idea behind each of them especially the one with Binny in it. Christmas always entertains me with the idea of that cosy, warm feeling thus having to face depressing stories without satisfying resolutions (which I believe could represent the harsh reality) somehow felt like a letdown.

Perhaps this was why I was a little bummed. But I was also thankful for the writing style which was actually beautiful and easy to follow. My initial surprise asides, I supposed these stories could serve as a reminder that reality isn’t always great and romantic. Binny’s hurt the most in my opinion.

Fine. It might seem like I have something against sad stories even though I can’t say I agree with that statement. Sad stories like these could do wonders if they managed to touch you. A Snow Garden would’ve been more... meaningful if the characters could be more emotionally developed so we could connect with each of them more and felt their depth.

Actual rating: 2.9