I read one Toibin novel, which I loved (The Master) and one volume of short stories which I liked (Mothers and Sons). This volume of short stories about alienation amongst family members was, on the whole, disappointing. The few gems were Silence, The Pearl Fishers, and The Colour of Shadows. While I read one reviewer who called the sex scenes (which are many) tender, I found them more mechanical, repetitive, and boring. There are only so many ways to talk about lubrication, penentration, and the taste of sperm. Really. While Toibin is usually a powerful, understated author who believes less is more, I found myself skipping a number of boring passages and groaning at cliches and overwrought poetics. I guess this is the curse of being a great writer; people expect more. If these stories had been by a lesser writer, I still would have rolled my eyes at the sex scenes, but I probably would have been less critical over all. But Toibin can do better than some of these stories.