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Reviewed by Chris-Jean Clarke for Readers' Favorite
Dead is Dead and Other Stories is a compilation of twenty flash fiction and short stories written by Jane Seaford. Broadly speaking, the common theme between each story is: the outcome of a situation can be influenced by our personality traits, but at times may also be influenced by others. For example, 'Polly's Day' is a war story about how the lives of women are never the same when their men have no choice but to sacrifice themselves to ‘save’ our country – even though they know that when one war ends, mankind will instigate another war.
Most of Jane Seaford’s stories have a singular moral. ‘My Name is Erica’ highlights the need not to berate someone for being stupid and then go on to do something even more foolish. Or, in the case of ‘Playing with Clay,’ not to make blasé statements that will tip someone who is already acting irrationally ‘over the edge.’ Whilst ‘Sweet Suzie’ illustrates this and more, it also shows the harm that can be caused by trying to coerce or manipulate someone into your way of thinking. Jane Seaford also explores the latter philosophy and the emotional repercussions it can have in ‘Dead-heading the Roses.’
To the author, it is equally important that we learn to trust others, regardless of their station in life or connection to us, and in turn not to jump to conclusions or apportion blame: ‘Dead is Dead’ and ‘My Father Talked to my Silent Mother.’ I also believe that Jane Seaford is extremely adept in extending the latter philosophy to 'Runners' and ‘The Homecoming’ - two very different stories, but both portraying the mental strength required when having to deal with the feeling of abandonment and the need not to be judgmental. The author's deep belief that we should take time to know the person rather than judge them on their looks or past mistakes is intertwined throughout: ‘Cheryl and Me,’ 'My Beautiful Dad,' ‘The Love Story of a Feckless Man,’ ‘Remembering Peter’ and ‘Meeting Dad.’
The author, however, also recognises that it is imperative for a victim or witness not to remain silent, as they would just be allowing the abuse to continue to escalate and have far-reaching effects and may even harm innocent bystanders: ‘One of Those Days’ and ‘Living in the Wrong Place.'
The author also explores how mental illness may be wrongly diagnosed as odd behaviour by the layman simply because the person’s behaviour deviates from the expectations and laws laid down by their society: 'Matilda, the Determined Woman' and ‘This is not Miranda’s Story.’ On another note, the author explores whether a couple could avoid all the fore-mentioned risks by simply marrying and staying together purely for practical reasons, rather than love in ‘Escaping the Warm-blooded.’ Or, just agree to indulge in a few nights of sexual pleasure with each other: ‘The Sleeping Handsome.’
I would recommend Dead is Dead and Other Stories to readers 18+ who love to read when they have a few moments to spare, e.g. at the bus or train station, or during the journey; in the bath tub or whilst relaxing.