Book Review – The Oscar Dossier
This is the third review of one of Lesley Hayes’ books I’ve written (I’ve still got a few more to be written up). I first encountered Lesley via a chance post on Twitter of all places and from that, I was intrigued enough to take a look at her website and then one of her books, and since then I’ve been a fan. Most members of the IASD will already be familiar with some of her books, but for others, if you’re not I highly recommend you give one of .. Click above for website … them a go to see for yourself.
Who exactly is Oscar? He seems to be one thing for one person and something quite different for another. Is he a brilliant artistic genius or a mad, lovesick fool? And the women into whose lives he sweeps with his wild Genghis Khan looks and his courtly passion each have their own tales to tell. Be beguiled along with them as you enter the slightly surreal world they inhabit. And watch out for the Polish ranting parrot – he spits.
This delightful collection of four interlinked stories will amuse and intrigue you, and leave you wanting more. Luckily, Lesley Hayes has provided them. Two other collections are here on Kindle, and more are yet to come.
These four short stories each look at the seemingly eccentric and enigmatic Oscar and the different women in his life, and of course a foul-mouthed Polish speaking parrot. Oscar is one of those larger than life characters, hugely talented and yet flawed in equal measure. There is a certain type of woman he is attracted to yet he seems blind to the love an altogether different woman has for him. The opening story introduces us to Oscar and his longtime friend, Lily. For some reason, these two names immediately put me in mind of the relationship between Oscar Wild and Lilly Langtry, and oddly enough there are some similarities between our characters here and their more famous namesakes. Each story effortlessly connects with the next, first introducing us to Oscar himself and then exploring the characters and stories of the women in his life, all intertwined with that of Oscar; how a foul-mouthed parrot fits into the grand scheme of things is best left for the reader to discover for themselves.
What we have in these four short stories is a beautifully written peek into the lives of a small clutch of captivating characters, brought alive by the fascination surrounding Oscar. The author skillfully plays with and switches the time frame from the present to the past and then a little into the future from the time of the initial story. Even though the stories are interconnected, there’s not so much an overall story as such but more a series of episodes that provide the reader with a lovely look into a part of Oscar’s life. It’s a present-day setting but the writing has a period, almost timeless quality to it. Within this book’s short length there is humour, sadness, perhaps a little albeit justified bitterness, and – on more than one occasion – unrequited love. There’s also perhaps a hint that the author knew such a character herself once, or at least someone on whom Oscar might be based. At just under an hour or so’s read, these four enchanting stories will immerse you in a world of literary imagination. I do so hope we get to meet Oscar again in other stories, though if not he’s certainly a character I will remember with a smile.
* Once again as has recently been the case with other books I’ve read, I’m not sure the cover connects with the story; yes, the cover here might loosely reflect the written description but personally I don’t think it reflects Oscar’s character, looking more like some ‘hoodie’ wearing juvenile than the fascinating larger than life persona that comes across in the book.
More about the Author:
Lesley Hayes lives in Oxford, where she gains much of the inspiration for her writing. She had numerous short stories and one novel published prior to training as a psychotherapist, and for two years had a weekly slot on BBC Radio Oxford reading her short stories. During the past seven years she has surrendered to the compelling urge to write fiction again, and has now published six novels: ‘The Drowned Phoenician Sailor’, ‘A Field Beyond Time’, ‘Round Robin’, ‘Dangerous People’, ‘The Other Twin’, and ‘The Girl He Left Behind’. All are available in paperback and on Kindle. She has also published four collections of short stories on Kindle: ‘Oxford Marmalade’, ‘The Oscar Dossier’, ‘Without a Safety Net’, and the aptly named ‘Not Like Other People’ – the last two are available in paperback in a collated version titled ‘Through a Glass Darkly’. You can find out more about her on her website, blog, and on social media:
See Lesley Hayes’ Amazon Author page for all the author’s books.