by Amanda Eyre Ward
The settings of the stories in Amanda Eyre Ward’s stellar collection, Love Stories in This Town, range all over the map of the United States — Austin, Georgia, Montana, San Francisco — but the main characters, all women, share one salient characteristic: they’re looking for something. For some it’s a sense of belonging somewhere, anywhere. For others it’s enduring love, or motherhood, or security or professional success. Each of Ward’s protagonists feels that there’s something basic missing in her life — a hole in her world. Whether it’s Kimmy, moving to Texas with her husband two days after a miscarriage (“The Stars are Bright in Texas”); Mimi (“Shakespeare.com”) working for a startup company aimed at bringing Shakespeare to the masses; or the six linked stories about ten years in the life of Lola Wilkerson, all these stories are moving and insightful; the dialogue is pitch perfect. I finished reading each of these stories wishing that Ward would expand every one into a novel, so I could spend more time with the characters.