Love Stories

Published by HarperCollins

Every now and then, I come across a book I wish I had written myself. Trent Dalton’s Love Stories is a book like that. It rests the simple idea that everyone has a love story to tell. His story starts with an act of love. A close friend’s mother dies and bequeaths a blue portable Olivetti typewriter on which she had typed thousands of letters of protest, determined to make the world a better place. He is touched by the love this woman has shown him and decides to use the typewriter to type up the ordinary stories of love which turn out to be extraordinary in their magnitude.

Dalton takes the typewriter into the heart of Brisbane and sits at a card table with a hand-written sign, asking passers by to share their love stories. And they do! Over a couple of months, he collects their stories, polishes these gems until they spark so much love that my heart aches and tears flow with equal measure of joy and grief.

I listened to the book on Audible on my long drives through the country travelling between schools. I have cheered for bold young lovers and cried at the sublime love stories of couples who have been together for longer than I have been alive. My heart has ached for those who had lost their loved ones and I remembered the men in my own life, whom I have loved just as fiercely.

I was struck by the eloquence of the men and women who spoke candidly about their deepest feelings, who bared their soul to a stranger with a typewriter so that their story could heard. I thank them for it. I fell in love with each one of them.

Dalton cleverly weaves his love for his own wife and children, extended family, and friends into the story. There’s no denying that the book is sentimental, but it is never syrupy or gushing. Anything but. What makes the love stories work is their honesty, however painful that may be. Difficulties are not glossed over, and pure joy isn’t reduced to clichés. The emotions are raw and real, beautiful and tragic, joyous and always, always life affirming.

This is book is a rare gem. Simple yet not simplistic and so full of love that I forgot about the cares of the world for the time that I spent at the magical place on the corner of Adelaide and Albert Streets with Trent Dalton at his Olivetti typewriter.

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