Read about author Esther Paul's published books.
Mending Fences is a collection of short fictional stories, four of them award-winning, about relationships between ordinary people.
Our lives are often filled with regrets over the past – harm we have done to others or missed opportunities to do the right thing. Many of these tales reflect a sense of retribution or reparation – making things right:
– a middle-aged gay son suddenly appears at his mother’s door after many years of estrangement;
– a woman dying of cancer seeks to reconcile with a once-favourite aunt;
– a recently widowed woman discovers a precious gem in a packing case, causing her to recall her pain at the loss of her first love.
Esther says that life also brings us lighter moments of fun and enjoyment, and has inserted several stories in a less serious vein: an elegant elderly couple enjoy dancing at a supper club; an ad in the Companions Wanted column has comic results; and two twenty-somethings seek their Mr. Right.
Thus, Mending Fences weaves together serious and lighter experiences in an imitation of life.
Endorsement by Author Mary Cook
Esther Paul is a master story-teller. Her newest book wends its way through situations in which all of us, at one time or another find ourselves.
Problems are dealt with in the old-fashioned way, and there is always a lesson to be learned along the road.
Colourful, her understandable phrasing is a constant in Esther Paul’s writing: something we all look for in a good read.
This talented author puts us in the middle of the story. Without being preachy, she brings us to a new understanding of life with its many ups and downs. Mending Fences is simply that... it has a lot to do with mending fences in our own lives.
Read excerpts from the book:
“. . . My pulse races now, as I slowly turn into the lane. Now that I’m actually here I want to
savour these last few minutes of anticipation. I’ve never stopped thinking about him and wondering how he was. I’ve missed him so much. My heart has ached so. I remember his lopsided grin and his infectious laugh which came up from his belly.
He’d shake all over when he laughed. He’d roll his narrow shoulders and his head and scrinch up his eyes. I couldn’t resist laughing too, even if I didn’t know what the joke was.
I inch into the yard. Wonder what’s going on in his head? Can he be as excited as I am? He sounded so surprised to hear from me after all this time. Here he comes. I can’t breathe all of a sudden. . . .”
“ . . . Dolly. That’s what I called her – my favourite aunt. “I love it that you call me Dolly, Angie,” she used to say. “For I sure hate my real name – Dorothy.”
She looked like a dolly too – a jolly roly-poly dolly with a round and happy face. I guessed Aunt Dolly probably weighed 200 pounds . . . She and Mother didn’t look like sisters in the least: Mother was tall and skinny; her thin face never wore make-up and she hardly ever smiled or laughed. Dolly was just the opposite – always ready to laugh – at herself, at everything. Mother wore dark clothes, no frills or jewellery, and her steel-grey hair she pulled straight back into a bun, while Dolly’s hair was flaming red (out of a bottle, I knew, for I’d seen her leaning over the sink to colour it). She wore bright colours: orange, yellow, purple and blue, and sometimes many colours at once in big swirly patterns. Her lipstick was shiny red and her eyes were lined with what she called kohl. On her wrists were clanking bracelets and on her neck several necklaces at the same time, with huge dangling earrings below her ears.
I loved the way Dolly was always ready to see the funny side of things and often hugged me to her soft cushiony bosom for no reason at all, while Mother constantly criticized me (her “headstrong disobedient daughter”) and never praised me even when I was trying to be extra good...”
LOST. FOUND. LOST.
“. . . One sultry evening, she sat reading in the sun room of her Ottawa apartment. It was very late. She was surprised and a bit alarmed by a knock on her door. Now who can that be at this hour?
A glance through the peep-hole showed a man, a stranger. “Who is it?” she called through the door.
“Is that you, Elizabeth? This is someone you know from years ago.”
She hesitated, asked again, “Who is it?”
“It’s Justin, Mother.”
Opening the door, she stood gaping at her youngest son, who lived somewhere in Vancouver, the last she had heard.
He carried a bouquet of flowers, and had a suede jacket over his arm. When she could find her voice she invited him in and hovered by the door as he pulled his suitcase over the threshold. Uncertain whether to hug him or offer her hand, she did nothing. She was suddenly conscious of her appearance, wearing no make-up and a ratty caftan over her nightgown. I must look like an old hag – he hasn’t seen me for twenty or thirty years.
“Hello, Mother.” Holding out the bouquet to her, he smiled...
...So that’s why he came! I kept waiting for the shoe to fall. Suddenly she crumpled up the note and threw it at the wall. Goddamn it! One blasted letter is supposed to expunge all the hurt of the past!...”
Copyright 2012 © Esther Paul. All rights reserved.