The Inside Stories
by Valerie Sheppard
Author House

"The dome came crashing down like a flying saucer, landing sideways on the dock."

The lines of fact and fiction are blurry in this collection of short, artistic stories. Drawing inspiration from painting, life experience, and a fondness for England's features both urban and rural, the author presents over two dozen brief tales in this collection. Each selection ranges in size from a short blurb of a poem to the first story, a twenty-page retelling of how her parents met for the first time. In the latter, turn-of-the-century England comes to life as Phyllis, the author's mother, moves on her own from the small family farm to the big city to find work as a receptionist for a doctor. Surrounded by adults and peers to look after her, Phyllis succeeds both in her professional role and socially, making fast friends and literally bumping into a hotel bellboy that would grow fond of her.

With a wide variety of stories to choose from, readers can be transported to many times and places. Going as far back as the age of the pyramids all the way up to the present day, the author describes locales and events as if she were present at each one. A majority of the stories are told from first-person perspective, but given the breadth of subjects, characters, and experiences, certainly not all are recalled memories. Calling upon decades of experience as an artist, the details are brought out to shine in these stories, from the silly antics of some local birds to the architecture and history of an old English castle. The pace of this book is quick, and the variety keeps it fresh and interesting from story to story.

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