Book review by Cheryl Thompson – Love stories

Love stories – written by Trent Dalton


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Trent Dalton is a multi-award winning journalist, screenplay writer, and author of the critically acclaimed and award winning Boy Swallows Universe – his first novel, published in 2018. His second novel, All Our Shimmering Skies, was published in 2020 and also became a national best-seller.  Love Stories is his second non-fiction book, the other is By Sea & Stars: The Story of the First Fleet.

Dalton was inspired to write Love Stories by the gift of a much-loved Olivetti typewriter from Kathleen Kelly, a friend and the mother of a close mate, when she died in 2020. He wanted to write something special on the blue Olivetti – something “filled with love and depth and truth and frankness and heart…” because to Trent, Kathleen was all of those and more.

He decided to set up “office” (the Olivetti, a small fold-up table and two fold-up chairs plus a sign “SENTIMENTAL WRITER COLLECTING LOVE STORIES”) on a busy Brisbane street corner. He asked people from all walks of life to share a love story with him, and soon discovered that love means many things to different people, including:        respect             kindness risk   commitment   appreciation    family  biochemistry     the gift of an orchid  and that love is           not for understanding.

A few of the diverse people who spoke to the writer included: Jean-Benoit, a Rwandan-born man who was found under a tree as a baby and adopted by a loving Belgian couple; Lani and Ian, the couple still deeply in love after 57 years together; heartbroken Ashlee whose boyfriend of three years broke up with her after the couple drove from Hobart to Brisbane and were setting up house together; and the 77 year old woman having an affair with a Roman Catholic Priest. Interwoven between the stories gifted to the author by strangers, are letters written by Dalton himself, including those to Kathleen and to his beloved wife Fiona, and a moving piece to Trent back from Fiona.

Each and every love story in this collection is as honest and individual as the people who shared their stories with the author. Some stories are heart-warming, some are inspiring, some are amusing, some are confronting, while some others involve grief or suicide or drug addiction.  I am not a reader of romance fiction, however, I found that these stories are worth taking the time to read and to reflect upon as they are people’s lived experiences.


Reviewed by Cheryl

Kyogle Branch Library Assistant.


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