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Dream House
ISBN: 0-87081-617-9

By Barbara Bean
Review by: Moira Richards

12/01/04

Sadly, love is not a BITCH (Being In Total Control, Honey). I’ve been married to the same person for almost thirty years and I know love is not easy. The people in Barbara Bean’s short stories have been around a lot less time than that and they are just finding this out.

Each of the nine stories is narrated from the point of view of a man, woman (one child, even) who is about to realise that their most precious love relationship is not all that they want it to be. And they wrestle with the problem, Do I get out, or do I compromise? Usually easier to go, always much more interesting to follow the process of someone’s understanding that might allow them to stay.

These stories all capture the sense of aloneness that this kind of dilemma induces. Bean explores one marriage first from the experience of the husband, then in another story, from that of the wife. A younger sister must come to terms with the growing up (and away) of her teenaged brother. In another a young woman weighs the propriety of her relationship with a sixteen-year-old boy against the ‘respectability’ of her friend’s marriage to an abusive man. All wrestle with the difficulty of loving someone else, someone who is another person in their own right and not one who will be moulded into the person whom their lover would rather they be.

Wise, thoughtful and well written, these stories are a great debut by Barbara Bean and I look forward to reading more of her work.

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