Thursday, November 24, 2011

5 Reasons to Leave a Lover: A Book Review

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In my review of Carolyn Moncel's Encounters in Paris, I spoke of the five short stories about Ellery Martin-Roulet – a 35-year-old African-American public relations executive living and working in Paris. Ellery's life was just turned upside down as a result of simultaneously losing her job and learning that her husband was being unfaithful to her.

In 5 Reasons to Leave a Lover, Ellery becomes even more real to us readers as we see her seek vengeance on the "other woman" by arranging to have her deported (and then reconsider this action), release her anguish by trashing the belongings of her beloved, and envelop her twin girls in a new family arrangement that excludes a father figure at home. I won't divulge the details of the plot here - you must read this novella to find out more!

I found this book to be more compelling than the first, perhaps because we get to follow Ellery in what seems to be real time as opposed to having fragments of her life revealed in the short story format of Encounters in Paris. I suppose this indicates my preference for novels. Having said that, I quite enjoyed the "other short stories" in 5 Reasons to Leave a Lover - "Maybe Just Leave, Steve" and "Maybe in Death, Beth." I especially like the surprise ending in "Maybe Just Leave, Steve," when we discover the true identity of the protagonist Cinnamon.

In the notes found at the end of the book, Moncel indicates that she was inspired by the theme of Paul Simon's song "50 Ways to Leave Your Lover" to pen these stories - hence the titles of the book and the two short stories in it.

The notes also indicate that Moncel is working on a novel called Geneva Nights, in which Ellery will once again appear. Moncel also intends to produce a full-fledged novel from Encounters in Paris by the end of this year. I look forward to reading both!

Carolyn Davenport-Moncel

Carolyn Davenport-Moncel is a virtual media and web consultant and life-long storyteller. Though she has published many online articles on media relations, she had to push through her tendency to procrastinate to get her creative writing juices to flow into her first book of short stories. She says that her stories are 25% real and 75% imagination, and that she takes her inspiration from all sources.


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