Put the kettle on!
Me-Time Tales is a book of ten short stories described as ‘tea breaks for mature women and curious men’. Each story has a female protagonist with a particular set of circumstances to deal with.
Yet, this book should appeal to a much wider audience, as the ages of the women in the stories vary from teenager to pensioner. We see women at all stages of their life, the unexpected changes that happen in their lives, and how the women deal with them. Their expectations of life, marriage, and family feature in the stories, and Minett skilfully juggles time, covering those years of life within a few pages.
While the opening story ‘Underwhelmed’, about a woman in her fifties on the lookout for a partner, seemed to be dragged out with slightly flat prose, the next one was both sharper and shorter. ‘Blind Date’ followed the same theme, but this time we have a teenager looking for a boyfriend. However, in less than a handful of pages, Minett successfully conveys the shallowness and cruelty of our emotions and behaviour regarding appearance and deformity. It was a powerful story, darkly funny, light, but with an underlying pathos.
And that sums up many of the stories in this book. Minett has, for the most part, a flowing readable style, uses humour well in a slightly flippant way, which contrasts and softens the harsher moments in some of her stories, leaving the reader with an overall bittersweet experience. The stories are enjoyable, but often with a message, or an unexpected twist.
Stories range from a just a few pages to around a dozen, and Minett varies the level of intensity of the different stories. Some leave the reader with a smile at the end, others evoke a more reflective feeling. The last story in the book certainly leaves the reader thinking and was a good choice for the final story.
Each story would be ideal for a tea (or coffee) break, a quick read before bed, or a commute to work. The book is also short enough to read in one sitting. 4 stars.