‘Other People’s Love Affairs’ by D. Wystan Owen – Stories Which Will Move You, If You Are Willing To Be Moved


‘Other People’s Love Affairs’ by D. Wystan Owen (2018) – 209 pages

I did not realize until now that anyone was still writing stories with this much depth and perception and feeling anymore. The stories in ‘Other People’s Love Affairs’ by D. Wystan Owen remind me of the stories of William Trevor and Elizabeth Taylor, both of whom are now gone. If you like either of those two writers, you will probably like these stories of D. Wystan Owen.

These stories go deeper into the circumstances and the psyches of their main characters than most stories do. People in them almost connect but not quite, and we readers are moved just as we would be in real life.

The power of an individual short story is that an event in our lives can reflect our entire life situation. Thus by concentrating on the details of this one event we can nearly entirely understand this person’s hopes, setbacks, hesitations, strengths, and weaknesses.

All of the stories take place in the town of Glass, a small English town on the southeastern coast. These love affairs are not what we typically call love affairs but rather off to the side.

In the story “A Bit of Fun” a widower revisits the cinema called the Princess where, as a teenager, he had trysts with an older married woman who confessed, “My husband isn’t any good to me, Gerald.” These trysts were a long time ago, but he recalls them vividly after his wife dies.

Perhaps the quality that gives these stories their emotional power is their subtlety. When two people almost connect because one person feels more strongly than the other, there may be sadness. One technique that Owen uses in several of the stories is to tell both sides of a relationship. The poignancy and the emotion for us readers develop when one person feels more strongly than the other.

In the title story, two women have been living together for many years when one of them dies. The woman who remains discovers that in the will she has been left everything to her except for the roll-top desk which was left to a local male bar owner. She is quite curious about this connection she did not know about and seeks to find out more.

In “Virginia’s Birthday” a small nightclub owner has had a lady singer perform there for years and years as his club has slowly lost its business and now may have to close. The story is told in the alternating perspectives of both the nightclub owner and the lady singer, and as it turns out the connections between these two people are much deeper than we originally suspected.

By the end of these stories you might shed a tear for the subtle but eloquent plight of its main characters or you might have a smile of recognition. What more can a story do?


Grade:    A+


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