- Book: The Weekend
- Location: New South Wales
- Author: Charlotte Wood
I was interested to read this novel after I had seen that author Patrick Gale (whose work I like very much) had referred to it in glowing terms.
It is the story of 3 women, friends in their 70s, who have known each other for 40 years or so. There was a further member, Sylvie, who passed away just recently, and the remaining three have assembled for a Christmas weekend to break up the contents of Sylvie’s beach house, so that it can be sold. Once one member departs a group, the group dynamics change and now there are the three, rubbing along, warts and all.
Jude has been a restauranteur and is now quite acerbic in her manner. She is really not keen that Wendy has chosen to bring along her 17 year old labradoodle, Finn, who is deaf and virtually blind and incontinent and very anxious. In him, of course, the women see the real downsides of the ageing process, it is starkly portrayed and heart rending to observe. Wendy was an academic. Adele has hung on to her beauty and style, honed during her years as an actor.
The gathering of people in this house, precariously perched high-up on an incline with an inclinator to access it, of course reminds one of Agatha Christie; a story penned by her would inevitably involve murder but this story is about relationships and ageing. The house-gathering is like a theatrical setting for examining the ageing process, rather stark and unforgiving at times – can I even say meanly done at times – all within a stifling, old, decrepit house, swirling with dust motes and creaking timbers. The heat of the NSW summer permeates the story, adding a cloying dimension to the relationships – AND SECRETS – that will unfurl.
I wasn’t really drawn to the characters but perhaps the author wanted the reader to peer in on this disparate group of friends, who are dealing with all manner of things that inevitably come with this age group and their experience of life.
I guess overall I felt that there was a meanness amongst some of the women – barbs and passive aggressive thoughts and interventions – that left me feeling slightly despairing and quite negative. It’s a gritty read that will, however, stay with me. Did I enjoy it? Yes, up to a point. And yes, I would recommend it particularly for the quality of writing and the observation of people and place.
And I love the cover, really eye-catching.