Safe as Houses

Marie-Helene Bertino

Quirky stories where houses rarely seem safe; the shorter ones tend to have better premises than delivery, but the longer ones benefit from the increased development. It felt to me that I enjoyed each story more than the last one, which left an overall positive feeling, though I started out feeling underwhelmed. The finale, “Carry Me Home, Sisters of Saint Joseph,” was my favorite: a woman struggling to adjust from a breakup becomes caretaker at a convent and uncovers secrets of the nuns she lives with. I got a little distracted by tomato growing details that didn’t seem accurate, unless this story takes place somewhere tropical. (Tomato plants are generally grown as annuals where winters are cold, and March would be too early most places to direct seed them.)

In a funny coincidence, I read the “North Of,” in which the narrator brings Bob Dylan home for Thanksgiving to try to convince her brother not to go to war in Iraq, and the next day Dylan won the Nobel Price in Literature.