Central to Harriet Richards’ character-driven stories in The Pious Robber are girls and women who have captured the revelations and disclosures that life’s complications have offered to them. Some are bold and blunt women who know loneliness and loss and don’t suffer fools; others are girls brimming with vim and wit who see life changes clearly but cannot totally grasp their meanings. In “A Blue Felt Bird” the life-long bonds that girls form in friendship shape memory and tilt the emotions of retrospection even after death. How Richards’ characters not only experience but measure such relationships is part of the magical transformation of their lives. For the protagonist in “Ava’s Compendium” one tragic incident with a boyfriend in her teens haunts her life and alters her family loyalties into her sixties; for the sisters in “The Pious Robber” the mystery of a madman in the summer of their youth is held like a sacred truth that only they can know as they grow older. As girls become women the forces that shape and transform have even greater complications. Whether they are in clean up mode after a divorce as Alicia in “Tangible Reminders of Regrets and Negative Memories”, or staring down the onset of depression as in “Sometimes It Seems”, reconciliation with self and the momentous sorting of emotions are new quests that must be travelled. For some like Olivia in “Bagatelle redux” the threads of betrayal and the fragility of life seem to overwhelm any strengths that might be mustered, whereas the women in “The Direction of the Three Sisters” defy their own possibilities as fate sweeps them along its path. Richards’ characters are all touched by vulnerability and often with a dark intrigue that allows them to rise off the page and take their place in the reader’s mind.
The Pious Robber
ISBN: 9781927068359 Categories: Fiction, Short Stories (single author)
About the Author
Harriet Richards has published two books of fiction: The Lavender Child was nominated for the Fiction Award and won First Book Award, Saskatchewan Book Awards 1998; Waiting for the Piano Tuner to Die was nominated for the Saskatchewan Book Award Book of the Year in 2003. Her fiction has been featured on CBC Radio, and published in literary journals in Canada and Wales. She lives in Saskatoon.