August Story Chat Summary

happy child in princess dress

A Dress for a Princess by Wendy Fletcher

If you missed Wendy’s story, read it at

Twist in the tale

Janis @ RetirementallyChallenged wrote, “I love a story with a twist, and this one definitely provided one – both to my heartstrings and to my pre-conceived idea.”

Phil thought that “the twist at the end is priceless, I wasn’t expecting it.” Elizabeth said, “I loved the way that story challenged my inherent assumptions.” Hugh admitted, “The clues were there, but I still missed them. For me, that’s excellent writing.

TanGental, “Like other correspondents … missed the twist … slapping my metaphorical forehead when it became clear.” Willowdot21 also said, “the clues were there but I missed them.”

Marsha, too loved “the element of surprise. I was waiting to see what handicap this poor mother was dealing with that made it so difficult to dress her little girl.”

Wendy pointed out in her comments … “there is a little bit of us in everything we write” and many readers identified with the narrator’s situation, sharing their own experiences of shopping with children.

Shopping with children

Marsha commented, “The story brings us a challenge that single moms and dads both have to deal with, and I’m sure there are many more.”

Phil confessed that, “Most men find shopping with females of whatever age stressful,” and added, “men and women in general shop differently.”

Gary shared his own experience of using public facilities with his young daughter, and said “My final thought across the final line was a version of, ‘that, but for the grace of God, could have been me.’ ”

TanGental, like Gary, found this “a memory jerker for the many times I was designated shopping parent … Shopping for school shoes, to find something that met two very specific yet diametrically opposed standards will remain with me – can you be traumatised by black pumps?”

Willowdot21 said, “I was wrapped in memories. I have three boys and so the experience was different but no less fraught.” And Valerie commented, “I suspect many of us who have ever shopped with toddlers could identify with most of the frustrations and emotions revealed here … I hope things will change if they haven’t already, but it seems we are no longer used to going into shops now, so who knows?”

It does appear that some retail outlets have regressed in their customer service since the easing of lockdown in the UK. Some, for instance, have been reported as refusing to allow guide dogs into premises (which is illegal here), although Willowdot21 pointed out that, “lots of places have always been difficult about guide dogs. For some places lockdown and covid are an extra excuse for them to be awkward.”

Gender issues

Just Browsing said, “As a father of boys, I’ve always doubted I could cope with daughters … I was there with him!” UnceUponATimeHappilyEverAfter told us, “My husband was a single father and is quick to remind folks that single dads often have it harder than single moms. Somehow a mom escorting a son into the women’s bathroom doesn’t look as curious as a father escorting a daughter into the men’s room.

Willowdot21 commented, “The fact that still in this day and age father and toddler could only be accommodated in the stockroom saddens me, not surprised but saddened.” And Marsha agreed that “Moms are more accustomed to bringing small boys into the rest room or changing room with them, but the same doesn’t apply to young girls in men’s rooms.”

Behaviour (toddlers, not store staff)

girl in pink dress

For Elizabeth, the story was “reminiscent of the year I discovered 3 was much more emotional than the so-called “Terrible 2’s”. Jane “particularly empathised with the confliction he felt as his daughter was making new friends at nursery. You are thrilled they are developing well but also very aware that now you will not be able to protect them from the pain and misery of hurts and slights from others.”

It was not only past memories that were raised by the story. Gwen “read it as a grandmother with a difficult granddaughter, not having enough contact with the child.” And TanGental “liked the other hints, too at other issues – the reference to stitches, the perhaps underlying fear his daughter had other issues beyond losing a parent to confront…”


Phil said “Wendy’s writing is always of a very high standard and original, I have enjoyed everything I have read of hers.” Elizabeth called the story, “Well written, totally engaging” and OnceUponaTimeHappilyEverAfter agreed, “What a powerful story.”

Patsy Collins called it an “Excellent piece … I felt certain the author knew exactly what they were talking about.” This was echoed by Janis @ RetirementallyChallenged, who called it “such a beautifully written story.”

TanGental also admired the “Beautiful writing throughout,” and Robertawrites235681907 commented, “This is such a moving story, Cathy. So much ‘reality’ to it.” Willowdot21 also said, “This is such an amazing story … A beautifully written piece from the heart”, and Marsha agreed: a “touching story in which the reader quickly identifies with both characters.”

I feel privileged to have hosted August’s Story Chat to bring you Wendy Fletcher’s story.

Story Chat is Marsha Ingrao’s initiative to bring unknown writers to a wider audience. Tune in next month for a completely different story vibe from Val Chapman, another member of our writing group .

Contributors to this conversation were…

(Links take you to a post on the commenter’s blog.)

The Railway Carriage Child

Wendy’s memoir, The Railway Carriage Child , tells of growing up in converted Great Eastern Railway carriages in the Cambridgeshire Fens. It is available from,, and other Amazon domains (just alter the url to your domain afterthe “Amazon dot”).

Next Month

Tune in again when September’s Story Chat brings you something completely different from Val Chapman

Story Chat header

Now It’s Your Turn

If you have a story you’d like to submit, please contact Marsha. Marsha reviews and accepts or rejects stories based on their content, appeal to a general audience, and high level of plot and character development.

18 thoughts on “August Story Chat Summary

    1. I can’t take credit for the idea. Marsha always completes her story discussions with a valedictory round-up. Hope you stick around for my next month as hostess. Thanks for contributing.


  1. This is so lovely, Cathy. You did such an excellent job of hosting this online event. It’s way more than just a challenge as there are so many necessary pieces to keep it going – finding an author, the author writing the original story and being willing to give up the rights for a month, the chatters and the host who brings them all together. You created a masterpiece, Cathy. Well done. 🙂 Thank you, too for the much needed break. I will have surgery to repair my torn meniscus on Sept. 14th. So, I can’t tell you how much I’ve appreciated this ability to step away for a couple of months and know that Story Chat is in such capable hands.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Good luck with that surgery! I see you’ve been busy on your other blogs though, so not exactly a vacation….
    It’s been encouraging to see so many of your followers coming over to read Wendy’s story and we’re grateful for the opportunity. Hope we see everyone back here next month for Val’s story: No Stone Unturned.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Cathy. Yes, I’ve been busy with lots of blogging, but it’s been great to step back and consider the next steps with Story Chat. Authors have stepped up for next year and I’m still mulling over some ideas which I’ll email you about. Thanks again for all you have done.

      Liked by 1 person

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