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Short stories take a lot more work than many people realize. A writer needs to be able to create characters, build a world and unfold a plot, all within a fairly low number of words.

That’s why I really appreciate an anthology from a writer who is skilled at writing short stories. And though I hadn’t read any of Gayle Gonsalves’s work before picking up Painting Pictures and Other Stories, I had my hopes that she would turn out to be a writer who possessed such skills.

It turns out that she does, and I quite enjoyed reading her anthology.

There are eight stories included in Painting Pictures, and they all have a fairly similar focus. Looking at the connections women form with themselves and with their loved ones, the stories discuss everything from heartbreak to finding new love, and from accepting the world around oneself to finding happiness within.

Overall, I thought Gonsalves did a wonderful job of bringing each of her characters to life. Within the few pages dedicated to each story, I got to know what makes each main character – and many of the secondary characters – who they are. I learned their loves and their losses, their passions and their fears. And, as I get to know them, I found myself connecting with them, even though I hadn’t experienced a situation exactly like theirs.

The anthology – being  just over 140 pages long – is a fairly quick read, but it’s one that I found had a lot of substance to it. I definitely recommend checking it out if you get the chance.

Goodreads summary

Painting Pictures features eight stories of discovery, betrayal, and passion. The stories depict the emotional turmoil that results from decisions: a little girl who migrates to Canada on a hot August day is flabbergasted to discover there’s no snow; a graphic designer leaves her husband each morning to meet her lover; an inconsolable heartbreak leads a woman to the brink of sanity as she desperately wanders city streets seeking answers in dark places; a young woman gives a touching eulogy to the woman who raised her; a wife is torn between her love for her husband and his brother; a college graduate moves across the country to keep a secret and recover from the lover who abandoned her, only to meet him again; a young woman experiences the joy of first love, its passionate awakening, and the moment when it’s questioned; and three women bond while shopping for dresses for their fictional weddings.In these stories, set in Canada and the Caribbean, the day-to-day incidents set the stage for events that impact and change lives.