By Sarah Hall
Harper Perennial, 187 pages, $14.99
Seven short stories focusing on female friendship and heterosexual relations constitute Man Booker Prize-shortlisted British author Sarah Hall’s The Beautiful Indifference. A lonely girl befriends a tough girl who is both captivating and frightening. A woman meets her unconventional lover, despite her friends’ protestations. Another woman moves to London in search of a new life but finds it as disheartening as the dead bees she finds littered outside her new home. A bored housewife tries out an adult agency for a change of routine. When a couple on holiday in Zimbabwe has a row, the woman’s solo beach walk causes unexpected consequences. A woman enjoys one last Christmas season with her friend. A boating accident ruins a lovers’ tryst.
With the exception of a few stray phrases, long descriptions, repetitive scenes, general inaction, one-dimensional characters, bland language and unoriginal premises leave the reader with indifference, but without the promised beauty.
Reviewed by Sarah Hutchins