The Book of Witty Women – introduced by Helen Lederer – #blogtour

I don’t read that many short stories, but those I do read tend to fall into horror and weird genres, sometimes or comedy-horror/weird, and occasionally some of them will be just comic. The latter is mostly the case here in the first book of short stories supported by the Comedy Women in Print organisation (CWIP), founded by Helen Lederer, who introduces this collection.

One of the prizes awarded by CWIP is for the best comic short story, and the collection begins with the 2023 winner by Paula Lennon. Spread through the other 14 stories are the rest of the 2023 shortlist, accompanied by stories from more established comedy novelists such as Kathy Lette, Lucy Vine, and stand-ups turned author Josie Long and Sadia Azmat.

My absolute favourite which really made me chuckle was ‘Glue’ by Clare Shaw. It begins with a woman who has been in therapy making a bold decision.

I’m going out without my mother and I’m not only going out all on my own, I’m going to help save the world. Yes, me, Gillian Braithwaite of thirty-one Acacia Avenue, collector of cereal packets and Rick Astley memorabilia is about to leave the house. On my own, I tell you, without the person I have been glued to all my life as if we are used Christmas cards stuck side by side in a scrapbook made by Matt Baker.

Gillian is going on a climate protest, little does she realise she’ll end up on the news for accidentally gluing herself to a Tesco checkout. There were some nice cultural references in this one.

You can’t help but chuckle too at ‘Double Date’ by Lucy Vine once you realise who the narrator is, I won’t give it away. Only Kathy Lette could write a story about two women auditioning men’s penises for a new production of The Puppetry of the Penis show. Lette has always been a writer who calls a spade a spade, and it is ‘penis’ all the way, no dicks or willies here! Josie Long’s story was clever and slightly sinister, about two con-women with a unique psychological take on their marks; that got a good smirk from me.

The styles are very varied, from out and out farce to the strange, rom coms and one with a good dollop of schmalz, that made me smile even though you could see where it was going. The characters and settings are as varied as the styles, from a narcoleptic to care home residents. And there are hamsters and dogs, funerals and birthday parties, there are letters and emails too, oh, and recorders! The main thing is that the narrators are themselves the butt of the joke rather than taking the mickey out of the others.

I was delighted to read these stories for the blogtour, I limited myself to reading one per night to stretch out the feelgood factor for longer. And all power to the CWIP!

Source: Review copy – thank you! Farrago paperback original, 384 pages.

BUY at Blackwell’s via my affiliate link (free UK P&P)

One thought on “The Book of Witty Women – introduced by Helen Lederer – #blogtour

Leave a Reply