Review of 'Love, Laughter, Tears' by Hilary Halliwell

This anthology of short stories can be purchased from Alfie Dog.  I have just written reviews on it for Goodreads and Amazon.

‘Love, Laughter, Tears’ is an anthology of seventeen womag stories (previously published by ‘Women’s Weekly’), by

Old fashioned Women's Weekly cover


Hilary Halliwell, who has had about 150 womag stories published.   What I didn’t include in my reviews were these pointers for wannabe womag writers (like me):

  • All Hilary’s main characters were either elderly middle-aged, at about retirement age or beyond.
  • All Hilary’s main characters were female.
  • Shifts in points of view were frequent.  (Gosh, I’d like to try that on any writing site you’d like to mention!)
  • Many of the stories were about trivial things, like garden shows and Christmas puddings, but the ones I enjoyed most were more substantial.  The more substantial stories include three about adoption: one about a middle-aged woman finding her birth mother; another about an adult woman traced by the son she had given up her son for adoption twenty five years ago; the third about foster parents adopting their foster child.  Others concerned a much-loved father with Alzheimer’s, death of parents and spouses, and illnesses with same, including the big C.  Topics Hilary didn’t cover, however, were divorce or any sort of strife between spouses, teenage rebellion or any sort of conflict between parents and children; all husbands, wives, sons and daughters were loving and supporting.
  • Storylines were gentle, some to the point of hardly being there at all, more like a friend telling you about
    Old fashioned women's magazines.  Good Housekeeping.


    something that had happened.  ‘You know, we had this foster child, bit of a disaster to start with, but we adopted her.  Nothing really got in the way.  Her brother and sister were fine about it and social services didn’t make any problems either.’  Absolutely no twists.  Did I mind, Dear Reader?  No, actually.  Stories like these are like soft velvet on the troubled and stressed soul.

  • Hilary hit the emotional button every time, but never the fear button, never the tension, anger or pain buttons.  Even the flower show story drew attention to mc’s loneliness and the Christmas pudding story to a mother’s need to be in control of Christmas.
  • Mcs rarely had well-defined character, but other characters did.  You can see why.  It’s what I call ‘mc syndrome’, as showing mc’s character when the reader is seeing everything through his/her eyes is very difficult.
  • All Hilary’s stories seemed quite long ‘for womag’ –  although I wasn’t in a position to count on my Kindle.
  • Occasional spelling and grammar errors – ouch!

An awful lot to learn!

On another tack, my review of ‘The Amber Keeper by Freda Lightfoot has been accepted by Copperfield Review and will be published tomorrow.  Hurray!  Also, Meredith Allard, editor of Copperfield Review, has asked me to become a regular reviewer, which I’m very happy to do.  As Copperfield is a journal of historical fiction, it will give me the appropriate kick to get reading more and more historical stuff.

Onwards and upwards!

1950s Woman on Cover of Magazine.



5 thoughts on “Review of 'Love, Laughter, Tears' by Hilary Halliwell

  1. julielees

    Congratulations on the acceptance of another review, as well as being asked to comment on a regular basis. Must really value your feedback, which is always nice to know.


  2. Hilary Halliwell

    Hello Charlie Britten, I happened across your pages quite by accident when looking to see if ‘Love Laughter and Tears’ was still available on Amazon. Let me answer some of your comments if I may.
    I and other successful short story writers write for a very specific market. I take notice of what my editors want and I try to deliver just that. Any spelling mistakes on ‘Love Laughter and Tears’ are down to whoever put the stories up on Kindle, via the publisher of the anthology, and sadly, there were an awful lot of them, as well as some story pages ending mid page, and nothing to do with me!
    However I am proud to write for the women’s magazine market and have had a lot of my stories published by the top magazines, both in this country and in New Zealand / Australia. Readers like to pick up a magazine and read for ten minutes or so to relax, maybe in their coffee break or lunch break, or before going to bed at night. My readers tend to like stories about the kind of things that touch their own lives. Many of the readers are in the age groups that you mention that my characters fall in to. And as for grammatical errors… I think to write real life then you have to ask yourself, do we all speak perfect grammar? I don’t want my stories to be stilted and unrealistic I want the characters to appear as in real life to the reader. I want it to reflect how we really talk to one and other, and that is why I believe the stories have been successful. I want them to be about every day things that the readership can relate to. BUT – I have had stories published about domestic abuse (a first) and about illness and death, along with the supernatural, and Angels and I have enjoyed writing these stories, some of which have been ‘firsts’ for the magazine in question. The adoption one that you mention as having no snags or problems and everything going along without a hitch, is actually full of them in fact. The girls parents were drug abusers, the girl was damaged, she had no ability to trust. The adoption was fraught with emotional ups and downs. Did you actually read it Charlie?
    My advice to anyone wanting to be a magazine writer of short stories, is to write from the heart, be yourself and remember, a short story writer has a few hundred words or a couple of thousand at most, to captivate the reader’s imagination and bring about a satisfactory conclusion whereas a novelist has a whole book in which to achieve the same end. Thankfully the short story genre is making a comeback. So be proud of what you do and keep sending your stories in, success is just a story or two away.


  3. charliebritten Post author

    Thank you for your comments, Hilary. As I said above, your stories provided me (and hopefully other wannabe womag writers) with some very useful pointers for writing for that market.



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