First off, Bergman is a wonderful story writer. She has a way of shaping stories from the most basic components and making them very much alive. Her stories are intelligent and expressive. Secondly, I love the concept of this book. Here are women we know little or nothing of, women who were “almost famous” because of the men were in the company of, or “almost famous” because they were notable, but just not quite visible enough in a patriarchal society. Here these women are reimagined, given new life and a chance to tell their stories. Many of these stories felt more to me like the product of Bergman's imagination than based on truths; however, a glance at the author's notes reveals she conducted considerable research.
All that aside, Almost Famous Women is a good book with a great concept, but the stories don't quite match the caliber of Bergman's previous effort, Birds of a Lesser Paradise. While there are many stellar stories in her first collection, Almost Famous Women is full of consistently good stories, almost great stories, but none quite as wonderful as “Housewifely Arts,” “Another Story She Won't Believe,” or “Saving Face.” Birds of a Lesser Paradise is worth the time to read because of its best stories. Almost Famous Women is worth the time because of the interesting characters it introduces the reader to.
Personal favorite included “The Siege at Whale Cay” and “Saving Butterfly McQueen.”