Official Review: Soliloquy: Beyond Town Limits by Annie

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fmd1821
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Official Review: Soliloquy: Beyond Town Limits by Annie

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[Following is an official OnlineBookClub.org review of "Soliloquy: Beyond Town Limits" by Annie.]
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3 out of 4 stars
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Soliloquy: Beyond Town Limits is a collection of short stories by Dene Hellman and Ann O’Dell. It is divided into six sections and includes tales about women of all ages with the aim of revealing episodes of their lives and their way of thinking.

Like any good anthology, Soliloquy offers both an overview of the authors’ style and lots of food for thought. I cannot dwell on each story separately, but they are all delightful gems. Their simple and consistent plots often focus on one topic at a time. This is the case of “Whatʼs in a Name,” where Frances, the narrator, reflects on the consequences of revealing poor Mabel’s middle name. Another example is “Mrs. Westfield,” one of my favorites. The protagonist of this story is sure to know what feelings her household helper has towards her. She will change her opinion only after a visit to the woman’s home.

Some plots are more complex, like “The Clawfoot Bathtub” and “Pidgeon Drop.” The most interesting for me is “Mother Cat,” where the protagonist has a unique relationship with her pet, named after her mother. The cat has a remarkable personality and is independent and smart. Moreover, Hellman describes her effectively, and it is easy for you to imagine her in her most memorable actions.

Considering that Soliloquy has two authors, its uniformity is striking. The stories are original and varied, but their structures have some common features. One of the most obvious is that it is at the end that their real meaning becomes clear. The events are self-explanatory, but the final paragraphs enlighten you on something you did not notice before. Moreover, both Hellman and O’Dell use a quiet tone, but it becomes ironic at times – when Mrs. Westfield makes her final considerations, for example.

Soliloquy invites you to admire the details and not just the general picture. The authors took their time to polish the narrative, and the characters’ actions and thoughts are unforgettable. The events do not need to be as sensational as in “Curtain Call,” where we witness Laura's debacle. Straightforward tales like “The Swan Bench” are meaningful and enjoyable, if you have the time to linger on every paragraph as if it were a line of poetry. Soliloquy is not a book you read when you are in a hurry, but when you can relax and appreciate its charming pages.

Soliloquy has only one negative aspect: the typographical errors. Missing commas, periods, and inverted commas do not disturb the reading but are evident. Another round of corrections is necessary to make the book flawless.

I rate this wonderful anthology 3 out of 4 stars only because of the errors; otherwise, it would have deserved 4 stars. I recommend it to every lover of short stories, mainly but not exclusively women. Hellman and O’Dell have given us an excellent piece of literature, and I will keep my copy among my favorite books. If you, too, like books where details are as precious as the message, then Soliloquy is the right read for you.

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Soliloquy: Beyond Town Limits
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Ever_Reading
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Post by Ever_Reading »

I absolutely love short story anthologies and this one sounds like it's worth checking out. It's unfortunate the editing fell short. Hopefully, the authors can go back to the drawing board and transform this collection into the masterpiece it has the potential of being. Great work with the review. Thanks!
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Post by LauraLeeWasHere »

Soliloquies really aren't my "thing" so I had no intention of reading this one either. But your enthusiasm and even joy regarding this one has gotten to me. I am about to dive into this on thanks to you. I believe this is the first review of yours that I have read and I'm most impressed.

Sincerely, Laura-Lee
And they sang a new song saying,
"You are worthy to take the book,
and to open its to seals,
for You were slain and have redeemed us to God,
by your blood, out of every tribe and tongue and people and Nation." Rev. 5:9
NKJ & KJV

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Post by Nisha Ward »

Quiet narratives are sometimes the ones that hit you the hardest, and I can see this being the case here. It's good that you enjoyed it because there's also tbe risk of it becoming too borng and I'm happy it didn't. Great review!
"...while a book has got to be worthwhile from the point of view of the reader it's got to be worthwhile from the point of view of the writer as well." - Terry Pratchett on The Last Continent and his writing.

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