Short Story Review: If You're Happy
“His heart keeps his own rhythm, strong and steady, like it might just beat forever."
I have this weekend routine.
I wake naturally. Boy, what a treat! Especially when I wake at 4 am each weekday to write before I go for a run and get ready for work—I’m an English teacher. I head to the kitchen and make myself an espresso, or two. Okay, maybe three. Then back to bed to read one to two short stories. I always have an anthology on the go. It’s my delightful way to warm up for reading in bed.
I've just finished reading debut author Fiona Robertson’s book If You’re Happy.
There are twenty-four short stories and, every one of them offers you an insight into people’s lives, their relationships, their emotions, and their hopes. What I loved about this anthology was the connection to the weather. It plays a unique role across all the stories—creating tension, building a mood, foreshadowing, or highlighting emotions.
The writing is crisp, and the imagery is rich, and my senses stirred across every single story. The way Robertson wields her pen is extraordinary. Her words are poetic, yet there is clarity in the moments the characters experience and feel. All the characters are unique, and you discover so much about their world. Each one offers a rich insight into their lives, and you are left feeling privileged for sharing their world with them. What I also enjoyed were the varied locations she set her stories in, not just in Australia, but across the globe.
Two stories stood out for me. ‘The Fluttering’, about a father’s desperation to save his ailing son. An eerie story with a symbolic undercurrent focusing on Ibises and their connection to death (think Ancient Egypt and Pharaoh tombs). This is what great short stories do—they ignite your imagination, create connections to your own values, attitudes, and beliefs—or challenge them. My all-time favourite was the ‘Happy Hour’, about a retiree who runs a classical music radio station in the Blue Mountains in New South Wales. A story about how music, and just a voice, can connect us.
If You’re Happy won the Queensland State Library’s Glendower Award and is a must read. I wholeheartedly recommend this anthology.
Angus & Robertson
If you want to know more about Fiona Robertson, please click here.
Happy reading 🌸