Everything we do – good, bad, and otherwise – we do in the pursuit of happiness. It’s the one thing that really unites us all, and it’s the theme that links all of the stories in If You’re Happy together. These short, sharp slices of life “explore the human heart and its desire and capacity for joy”, and all the ways – good, bad, and otherwise – we pursue happiness in a turbulent world.
Fiona Robertson is a doctor turned writer (which brings to mind Melanie Cheng and other Australian writers with a background in medicine). It’s clear that her experiences have seeped into her writing, with many of her characters grieving losses due to terminal illness or struggling with their own health troubles. (So, obviously a content warning for illness and grief, also suicide.)
What’s most impressive in this collection, though, is Robertson’s incredible empathy for her characters. Their desires and foibles are honoured and handled gently, making even the most eccentric and unusual among them relatable.
If You’re Happy is an intriguing collection, and reading it is like peeking into the windows of strangers and learning all about their lives at a glance. My endless gratitude to UQP for sending through a copy for review.