Opening sentence: “It was not the first time it had happened, this waking early in the pale light with a quiet but urgent desire to go to church.”
It’s not often that I read a novel where the four lead characters are in their 70s, as is the case here. Jude, Wendy, Adele and Sylvie have been friends for over 40 years and in The Weekend, we meet them as they come together after Sylvie’s death. Sylvie may not be there in person, but she is as much a part of this story as her three friends.
Jude, Adele, Wendy and her ancient dog Finn (an equally important character in the story) spend Christmas weekend in the fictional New South Wales coastal town of Bittoes, clearing out Sylvie’s house so that it can be sold. However, each woman is carrying a set of resentments that, it turns out, Sylvie was keeping in check. So without her there, tensions start to bubble…
Despite the three women knowing each another better than their own siblings, Sylvie’s death had opened up strange caverns of distance between them.
The distinct inner monologues of each character were brilliantly and seamlessly woven throughout the chapters. The flow was so engrossing that I felt like a fly-on-the-wall in that Bittoes home.
We learn the back story of each woman: Effervescent Adele is a struggling actress, (‘Artistic poverty was romantic when you were thirty. It was after fifty that people began despising you for it.’) Straight-laced Jude is in the restaurant business and in the midst of a life-long affair and scholar Wendy is devoted to Finn – perhaps to the detriment of other people in her life. They are all so interesting and intricately crafted, which made their interactions so fascinating.
Be careful, Adele wanted to say. It was a dangerous business, truth telling.
I found The Weekend to be a truly captivating story of friendship, home truths, reflection and the reality of getting older. Themes I haven’t read about a lot, so I enjoyed this immensely.
This is my first book by Australian author Charlotte Wood and I’m excited to read more of her work. I love discovering a new novelist with such a clear, insightful voice. The way she brought her characters to life meant that weeks later I still find them popping into my mind. Also, this cover art is beyond dreamy. Love that Finn even gets a starring role on there too.
- Thank you to NetGalley for the ARC;
- Published by Orion Books 25th June 2020;
- 288 pages;
- My rating: