I can’t remember the last time I read a book of short stories. What a refreshing change! Robertson Tait’s stories, ‘Riding a Strong Wind’, are fun, frivolous and hopelessly romantic. And yet Tait is a skilled writer who manages to balance his story lines with beautiful observation. His settings are often romantic and exotic (Tobago, Italy, Santa Barbara …) and it’s clear that Tait has extensive personal knowledge of these fabulous locations. Such is his ability to bring these places to life that I found myself longing for a holiday and an escape from the bleak January blizzards outside!
However, I have to say that despite the many sultry sun drenched scenes, it was Tait’s Scottish story ‘Barra’ that stood out for me. It follows the romance between a local island man and an actress ‘in exile’ from her celebrity lifestyle. I thought their romance was the most convincing and touching of all the stories and found myself really rooting for their relationship to survive.
My overriding criticism of Tait’s stories would probably be that things often end too perfectly. Not only does the boy always get the girl but they inevitably seem to end up successful and often rich as well! If only life was always like that. But, as I’ve already said, these stories are refreshing and perhaps it’s that sort of optimism that we all need.
Some of the greatest writers of the past were famed for their short stories and I think it’s inspiring to see a continuing tradition. If you are deeply cynical then ‘Riding a Strong Wind’ probably isn’t for you. But, if you want to throw caution to the wind and find yourself transported to gorgeous sunny climes where life really is beautiful, then this should be right up your street. Robertson Tait, please keep writing!