Louise Caiola’s short stories in Vignettes and Petit Fleurs are as lovely as the covers of these sister books. The author deals delicately with subjects such as loneliness, change, relationships, and the loss of loved ones, each story with a theme of its own. And while Vignettes focuses more on “tales of choice and change,” and Petit Fleurs concerns “first tries and second chances,” the two intertwine and complement each other.
My favorite story is “Twin” from Petit Fleurs, which deals with dreams fulfilled, but perhaps too good to be true. I felt drawn into the story of Tori and Jenna, two cousins close in age as well as spirit. Keeping in touch even when Jenna moves from New York to Tampa, Florida, they share their happiness with each other when they both end up with the men of their dreams. But will it last? The story kept me guessing until the end.
“The Chameleon Dance” from Vignettes is about self-discovery and living the lives which are right for us. As little Ileana spins and twirls for approval in New York, so far from her home in South Africa, she never stops to wonder whether or not she wants to be a prima ballerina–until later in her life. Why is she there? Is it because her parents and others tell her how graceful and poised she is, or because it’s what she wants?
“Unbridled Hope of Eighteen,” Petit Fleurs, is where past meets future, helping us look at life in a different light and wonder. When Gwendolyn Sykes takes a bus toward her home in Pennsylvania after a ten-year stint of trying out her acting skills in New York, she feels discouraged. But when the bus makes a stop, a bubbly, eager eighteen-year-old climbs aboard, reminding Gwendolyn of herself at that age, but a mystery prevails. This story reminds us that sometimes our goals and dreams are still out there and it’s not too late. We might just need to revisit the familiar to be recharged.
Hearts can’t help but be touched by the depth of Louise Caiola’s stories, and her descrip- tive language well-expresses the thoughts and feelings of the characters, making both Vignettes and Petit Fleurs enjoyable reads.