Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Short Story Review: Burn the Brightest by Emily Moreton

Burn the Brightest by Emily Moreton is a short story about falling in love with someone in military service.

Edith, our protagonist, is a lecturer, and Jo is a temporary teacher in the area, on assignment from the Navy. They're both ordinary, decent, non-perfect people, the sort of women you might meet everyday, but with no particular character flaws or flights of personality to make them stand out.

Except that Edith has a Thing about dating military people. As in, she doesn't, ever. When she meets Jo, first at a party and then through a series of inevitable coincidences, she can't help falling for her, all the while trying to push her away. Once she explains her issues, they settle into friendship, but of course that doesn't last... And nor does their time together.

Edith doesn't seem to date much anyway, and she works near a military base, so all the women her friend tries to hook her up with don't really work. This means that it hard to tell if Jo is the problem, or if Edith is. For the first half of the book, she makes a big deal out of not talking to anyone or letting herself like Jo, and this comes off as quite antisocial. Once her reasons are explained, and she stops trying to hide them and relaxes, she becomes much easier company. Basically, the story is about Edith learning to get over the fact that it wouldn't be perfect, and that maybe Jo was worth it anyway. But she never really came to terms with that.

Unfortunately, her original reason of not wanting to date someone and spend her life waiting for them to come back - or not - is sound, and there's no way around the fact that Jo is going to get called back to active duty at some point. So it is a realistic look at what relationships for couples involved in the military and overall, a gentle, rather depressing romance about essentially 'ordinary' characters.

You can download Burn the Brightest on

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