REVIEWS posted when the book was first published.
By mjpotenza 2011
Any fan of short stories will enjoy this selection of entertaining tales by Fiona Compton. The
author presents women’s viewpoints, emotions, and experiences accurately and
uniquely. The women characters are interesting, complex, and sympathetic (the
men are mostly cads). One wonders how much is autobiographical. The writing is
descriptive and precise. The style flows nicely, making for easy and pleasant
reading. The Wedding Singer, Miss Stratton Disappears, and The
Sunset Gleams, to name a few, all have the right combination of humour and
sadness. In short, these well written stories are very enjoyable.
By Pearl Harris (language practitioner)
Each short story in this collection is refreshingly different and will touch
a chord in the heart of most female readers. All the characters are masterfully
and realistically portrayed. Many of the incidents depicted are those which
affect all women at various times in their lives and with which the reader can
readily empathise. Some bring a chuckle and a feeling of optimism, others a
feeling of sadness. All left a lasting impression on me. Fiona Compton’s voice is
a charming mix, evidence of her Scottish, South African and musical roots.
These stories particularly appeal to me as an expatriate South African, as many
of them richly evoke the South African lifestyle. However, all are timeless in
their own right and certainly worth reading by both women and men, whatever
TASTER – A few pages of The Song is Ended
It was a beautiful spring day in the northern suburbs of Johannesburg. Heather Munroe felt happier than she had done for a very long time. Ian, her husband of thirty years, had woken in a cheerful mood and taken their two little dogs for a walk at nearby Zoo Lake before lunch.
“It’s a wonderful day, isn’t it, darling?” he said as he negotiated the exuberant Buster and Benny into the back of the car. “Thank goodness we don’t have to be in the studio until later. Why don’t we have a picnic lunch in the garden for a change and make the most of this gorgeous weather?”
He kissed her lightly on the forehead and drove off on the short trip to Zoo Lake where the dogs could romp free round the water.
Although Ian’s dark hair was receding and tinged with grey, and his expressive face slightly haggard, he remained a commanding figure despite his genial personality. He had accepted his gift of an outstanding voice, which had given him a successful career, without assuming it made him superior in any other way.
After he left, Heather went to her bedroom to tie back her thick auburn hair with an aquamarine ribbon, which perfectly matched her eyes, and returned to the kitchen to prepare the picnic lunch, humming softly.
Heather and Ian spent most of their time together in their Sandton studio, where she taught piano, and accompanied Ian’s singing pupils, just as she had accompanied Ian himself, when he was singing professionally here and in Europe.
Heather had recently been to the Grahamstown Arts Festival to accompany another singer. Their student, Janet Tabraham, had played for Ian in the studio, as she had done a number of times before. She was a hard-working, serious girl in her late teens, preparing for her piano and singing diplomas, hoping to make a career in music. They had been delighted when they discovered how well she could play. Heather
had no qualms about asking her to play for Ian when she was away.
“It will boost her confidence and be a wonderful opportunity for her to learn how to teach singing,” Heather told Mrs Tabraham. “Don’t worry about her, Margaret. Ian will look after her.”
Janet had started singing and piano lessons with them as a guileless sixteen-year-old, still at school. The only child of elderly parents, she had led a protected innocent life. The nearest thing to the high life for Janet was the Young People’s Guild at the Church hall on a Friday night, and singing alto in the school choir.
Heather doubted if Janet had ever had a serious boyfriend, although she was an attractive, dark-eyed girl, quiet and unassuming. They had given her a spare key to their studio so she could go in and practise in peace when they were not working there.
Heather chopped up the salad ingredients, thinking about her husband. For a while he had been restless, grumpy and out of sorts, but unwilling to offer any explanation for his misery. He would often fall into bed in the middle of the night, after consuming half a bottle of whatever had taken his fancy in their cocktail cabinet the night before.
She wondered if he was having another of his little flings and feeling guilty about it, despite the novelty of a fresh liaison. After the last one he had sworn he would behave in future, but she hadn’t taken him seriously. She had heard the same contrite promises before. He was sixty now: surely pretty girls in the eighteen to twenty-five age group, for whom he had a weakness, would look on him as a father figure rather than a lover. “Dirty old man”, might spring to their lips if he tried it on with one of them these days. She knew that the long line of girls, with whom he had amused himself over the years, were his little flaw, like gambling, or drinking, which might soon become his second little flaw if he were not very careful.
After his grumpy spell and over-indulgence in spirits, Heather had been surprised, relieved, and even rather thrilled, when last night he made do with two gins and made love to her almost like he used to do in the early heady days of their long relationship. Despite his perennial unfaithfulness, she knew he had no inclination to end his marriage for he always returned to her after a meaningless affair.
Despite Heather’s annoyance at his numerous flings, she did not want to end their marriage either. They had a successful and lucrative concert career, and now that Ian was nearing the end of his singing days, they were running a flourishing music studio together. Their musical partnership was as perfect as it had been the day she had first played for him at a concert in London over thirty years earlier. She still loved him, regardless of his foolhardiness with young girls. Each one had faded away, suffering the ignominy of being unceremoniously dropped, but she, Heather, remained a constant in his life. She knew he would never leave her.
Ian let the dogs off their leads to run free round the lake. He followed them at a slower pace. Zoo Lake was quiet this morning, although there were remnants of the revelry that had taken place at the weekend. Beer cans, empty chip and sweet packets, some floating in the lake, spoilt the illusion of being in the country rather than in the middle of a big city. Ian could see the white clad figures of the bowlers at the nearby bowling club. He could even hear the applause and the exclamations of pleasure when someone placed their bowl in a good position.
He thought about last night with Heather and felt rather ashamed of himself. He had been having a few drinks and thinking about his relationship with Janet – he could hardly call it an affair – yet. Unlike the young women and girls with whom he had previous affairs, this one was an innocent, a virgin. At sixty years of age he would be wicked to take away her innocence, although she was now at the stage where she
really wanted him to do so. She was so entirely devoted to him that he was frightened where it would all end. As end it eventually must…
The book is available as a paperback and as an ebook (epub) at: Fiona’s Store