A collection of short stories with an underlying theme: infidelity. Each short story are small vignettes into the lives of different women in different walks of life who are having an affair. One woman invites her husband’s mistress out for a drink, while another is out for coffee with a married man she met on Facebook. One woman recurs in several different stories within the 11-tale book.
In all honesty, I have not read many short story collections and I’m really not sure why. It’s an fascinating way of storytelling where the author must select a very specific moment in their characters’ lives to develop, no preamble before or after. I found Single, Carefree, Mellow to be incredibly readable, easy to delve into all the messy and awkward details of these affairs. The short story with the same title as this whole collection may be one of my favourites, which also features Maya – the recurring character that Heiny revisits 2 other times throughout the book – and her dog Bailey. On the other end of the spectrum, the one about a student/teacher affair felt really icky and uncomfortable to get through – even more creepy than one would think that kind of story would already be.
While the characters and their circumstances were different with each story and having full awareness of the connecting theme throughout the book, I still did find that it got a bit similar after a while. So much deception and mild-to-little remorse. And maybe that’s what kind of stuck out to me most – that these affairs started without a care of repercussion and the only time there was much sadness was when it was possibly ending. I started feeling increasingly sad that story after story was filled with these women who were sneaking around on their significant others. To call back to the title of the book, I’d probably change “single” to “sneaky” as the majority of these women were definitely not single – but certainly feeling very carefree and mellow about their lies.
All that being said though, I got completely sucked into each of these women’s secrets because that’s how these moments read like – a glimpse into their secret lives. Even though the theme of adultery is prevalent in each story, Heiny also explores the friendships and relationships between the characters as well. It was interesting to see our own possible friendships within the different dynamics of friends who are in one story incredibly close and supportive, to another pair where the feeling of unbalance sneaks into the narrative. This book arrived only a few days ago and I flew through it. It’s a perfect weekend read that’s at times juicy, naughty, sad and funny.