The Venice Apartment and Other Stories

The Venice Apartment and Other Stories by Erna Cooper is a romantic but chilling collection of stories concerning mainly women and the relationships they have, told over lunch between friends in a restaurant.

Unexpectedly, the apartment in question is in Venice LA, not Venice Italy, and there are lots of references to France, even though most of the stories are set in California. The images the story conjures up are all very European, and do not especially reflect American culture, so the characters seem strangely displaced. The first few pages are a bit predictable and transparent, the meaning is a little obvious and seems only skin deep, but then the story takes an unexpected twist, and what you thought was starting out as a girly conversation in a mundane situation at lunch, turns sinister and ghosts present themselves out of the blue.

Love, death and art dominate the stories, together with the theme of people coming to terms with past relationships and being weighed down by the past and memories. The style is sensual and full of beautiful images; the strong emotions produce an erotic charge in many of the stories. The stories centre on women and ghosts. Think Margaret Atwood meets Roald Dahl for adults. It is very descriptive and light, easy to read and worth taking to the beach or an afternoon in the garden, but not all day.

Sarah Vanstone 29/06/2006