All Together Now by Monica McInerney

A quick rundown… A collection of short stories and novella, Odd One Out.

Strengths: Good to see the works collected together.

Weaknesses: I’m still not a fan of short stories. I prefer novels.

Why I read it: It was the only Monica McInerney book I hadn’t read at the time.

Pages: 288

Published: 2008

Publisher: Penguin

Setting: Australia

Rating: 8 out of 10

If you liked this, try: Any Monica McInerney novel such as At Home With the Templetons.

All Together Now was the only Monica McInerney book I hadn’t read (excepting 2011’s new release, Lola’s Secret). I had purposefully left it until last because I’m not really that big a fan of short stories (exception: Haruki Murakami). But as short stories go, this is a fairly good collection. McInerney’s sparkle and wit shine through even in a short period. A lot of the stories (some only several pages) got me engrossed and then suddenly finished, which was disappointing. But you can’t win them all.

The majority of the book is taken up by the novella, Odd One Out, which was previously released as a giveaway with the Books Alive programme. Strangely, I didn’t read it back then. The novella is about Sylvie, who is a bit lost and is asked by an old aunt to be her companion at an inopportune moment at a wedding. Sylvie is wrested from this fate by her brother, who sets her up in Melbourne on a treasure hunt to find new things and empower herself. There are some unexpected twists and turns but the ending is fairly predictable, and a little up in the air. I’d like to see this fleshed out more as a novel – the mystery of Sylvie’s dad is solved in a couple of paragraphs and then barely mentioned. The treasure hunt was a very good idea.

Lola (the grandmother from The Alphabet Sisters and now star of Lola’s Secret) makes an appearance as a fairy godmother doing good in another short story. It was nice to see familiar characters from McInerney’s novels return and a plus for those who have read her other works.

This would be a good point for those at the midway point or the end of McInerney’s work. A lot of the stories in this book have appeared elsewhere, so it would be advisable to have a quick skim before you purchase. It’s ideal for a quick read.

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