About the Book:
The brilliant new novel from Charlotte Wood, acclaimed author of The Natural Way of Things.
Four older women have a lifelong friendship of the best kind: loving, practical, frank and steadfast. But when Sylvie dies, the ground shifts dangerously for the remaining three. Can they survive together without her?
They are Jude, a once-famous restaurateur, Wendy, an acclaimed public intellectual, and Adele, a renowned actress now mostly out of work. Struggling to recall exactly why they’ve remained close all these years, the grieving women gather for Christmas at Sylvie’s old beach house – not for festivities, but to clean the place out before it is sold.
Without Sylvie to maintain the group’s delicate equilibrium, frustrations build and painful memories press in. Fraying tempers, an elderly dog, unwelcome guests and too much wine collide in a storm that brings long-buried hurts to the surface – and threatens to sweep away their friendship for good.
The Weekend explores growing old and growing up, and what happens when we’re forced to uncover the lies we tell ourselves. Sharply observed and excruciatingly funny, this is a jewel of a book: a celebration of tenderness and friendship that is nothing short of a masterpiece.
If you are going into this one because you liked The Natural Way of Things, you need to know that The Weekend is entirely different, with one exception: the brilliant writing.
‘This was something nobody talked about: how death could make you petty. And how you had to find a new arrangement among your friends, shuffling around the gap of the lost one, all of you suddenly mystified by how to be with one another.’
This is a novel about female friendship that has been coloured by grief, and although the main characters are each in their seventies, I do feel that this is a story that women of other ages could connect with. I certainly did, and I’m in my forties.
‘At the same instant they each lifted a hand to shade their eyes, in a motion Adele had seen hundreds, thousands of times through all the decades of their friendship. She remembered them from long ago, two girls alive with purpose and beauty. Her love for them was inexplicable.’
Each of these women were likeable and not, in equal measure, like real people, I suppose. Balanced against their grief for Sylvie and their irritations with each other was a very real concern for their own circumstances within the framework of ageing. Overall, I felt as though each character got enough airtime and no one’s issues overshadowed the other. It made for an entertaining read, the shifting perspectives. The weaving into the narrative of their respective as well as mutual histories was also well done.
‘Until now she had never considered that the worn rubber band of their friendship might one day simply disintegrate. It seemed impossible. But a deadness had crept into their feelings for one another and, it seemed now, was spreading.’
I read The Weekend in one day, on the weekend! It was one of those novels that made for easy reading, despite the thought provoking content and heavy themes. Honestly, it was an incredibly uplifting read and I highly recommend it.
‘And each of the three let go, plunged down and felt herself carried, lifted up in the great sweep of the water’s force, and then – astonishingly gently – set down on her feet again. They breathed, and wiped their eyes, reached for each other again, waited for the next wave.’
Thanks extended to Allen & Unwin for providing me with a copy of The Weekend for review.
About the Author:
Charlotte Wood has been described as ‘one of our most original and provocative writers’. She is the author of six novels and two books of non-fiction. Her bestselling novel, The Natural Way of Things, won the 2016 Stella Prize, the Indie Book of the Year and Indie Book Award for Fiction, was joint winner of the Prime Minister’s Literary Award for Fiction, and was published throughout Europe, the United Kingdom and North America. She has been twice shortlisted for the Miles Franklin Literary Award, as well as many others for this and previous works. Her non-fiction books include The Writer’s Room, a collection of interviews with authors about the creative process, and Love & Hunger, a book about cooking. She lives in Sydney with her husband.
Published by Allen & Unwin
Released October 2019
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