In this, her third collection of short stories, Perriam explores the secrets and lies that entangle people's lives; the dreams and disappointments we often choose to hide. Many of the characters are struggling for release, seeking an escape from rules, restrictions, confinement or control. This freedom is achieved in surprisingly diverse ways - through the companionship of a plush pink laughing pig, or the succour of a stray mongrel abandoned in the street, or by the chance encounter in a charity shop of two desperate brides-to-be. The age-span is similarly diverse, ranging from a teenage girl, determined to disengage herself from her coercive mother's custody, to an intrepid octogenarian who hitchhikes up to Inverness, to avoid the dreaded prospect of stair-lifts and grim wardens in a sheltered housing complex. Food is a recurring theme. One woman resigns her job to concentrate full-time on eating; ather stockpiles chocolate HobNobs for her flatful of tame mice; a third gorges herself on grapes, to fill her drab existence with pulsating purple passion. The fact that this feast is imaginary does thing to dilute its power. In Perriam's world, fantasy is highly therapeutic. Her quirky but courageous characters build gingerbread houses or castles in the air, to fill holes in their lives. Many battle with fears and vulnerabilities, or with the absence of long-lost partners, yet still search, heroically, for love. As in her vels, Perriam probes both the angst and absurdity of the human condition, combining dark incisive humour with a deep compassion for the 'lost souls' she depicts.
Wendy Perriam's fifteen novels have been acclaimed for their psychological insight and their power to disturb, divert and shock. Expelled from her convent boarding school for heresy, she read History at Oxford and also trod the boards. After a stint in advertising and a variety of more offbeat jobs, ranging from artist's model to carnation disbudder, she now divides her time between writing and teaching. Her first short story collection, Dreams, Demons and Desire, was praised as 'a long-awaited treat - exciting and enchanting'; her second, Virgin In the Gym, as 'a feast of fantasy that will amuse and provoke in equal measure.'