Rubyâ€™s in debt, a lot of debt, Â£10,000 to be exact. She knows sheâ€™s got to face up to her problems, but itâ€™s not going to be easy. She never wants her boyfriend, David, to find out, but will she be able to keep her secret long enough to pay off her debt?
Out Of My Debt is a ‘novelette’ (54 Â pages) debutÂ from author, Helen Libby. Â Living in the Highland village of Aviemurchus, Ruby has a lot going for her – a loving family and partner, great friends, and she loves her job as a librarian. The problem is that nobody knowsÂ the extent to whichÂ her compulsive shopping habits have got her into this debt. Neither do they really understand her desire to travel; other than university in Edinburgh, Ruby hasn’t been very far and seeing Italy is at the top of her wish-list. David, a great boyfriend in every other way, just doesn’t see the point. Â Ruby buys things because it’s so easy on-line, it gives her a buzz, and undoubtedly it fills a hole in her life. Dealing with the debt is one thing and but understanding and accepting why she has it is another.
Unlike a novel, where the length offers itself to a more leisurely, sometimes tangential, pace, in a novelette (or novella) there has to be one main story with any sub-plots feeding into it – but it shouldn’t be too one-dimensional! No easy feat, but Helen Libby manages it very well. The theme of the novel – Ruby and her debt – is central and the reasons, repercussions, and relationships around that add the layers that make it a satisfying read.
Ruby is engaging and honest and her plans are realistic. The supporting characters, from Mrs M (the library’s best customer) to Jennie, Ruby’s best friend, are well developed. If David is a little bit too morally outraged, it’s deliberate – he gives the other side of the story. The story’s setting too, is a pleasant change. We get a sense of small town, Highland life , with all it’s pros and cons and it’s a clear reminder that things like debt are not the preserve of people in the city and suburbs. Without ever being a ‘how to’ book, it also has a few clear ideas about how to deal with debt – Libby has certainly done her research but carefully limits it to relevant details.
If you find short stories too short but don’t always want to commit to a novel on your Kindle, Out of My Debt is just the thing. And the good news is, Libby has just published her second novelette, Love You and Leave You.
Out of My Debt, priced at Â£1.99, Â is available as a Kindle eBook at www.amazon.co.uk/Out-Debt-Novelette-Helen-Libby-ebook/dp/B018RERNZA