The Weekend, the sixth novel by acclaimed author Charlotte Wood, enchanted me. Perceptive, gut-wrenchingly sad and superbly written, this book also includes enough humour to lighten the story.
Three friends in their seventies converge on a beach house near Sydney during the weekend that includes Christmas. They have agreed to sort out the household accumulation of years to make the house ready for sale for an acquaintance, Gail, who now lives overseas. She and the former owner of the house, Sylvie, were lovers before Sylvie’s death eleven months previously.
The house holds rich memories for the three friends. Their dear friend Sylvie played hostess to them there during summer breaks for many years. Jude, a former restaurant owner arrives first. Adele, an-out-of-work but still hopeful actress and Wendy, an academic and public figure come later and set about the tasks allotted to them by Adele.
Wendy’s decrepit old dog accompanies her. Blind, deaf and cognitively challenged, he spend the days staring into space, turning in circles and bringing the ire of Adele and Jude upon himself.
Some of the things I loved about The Weekend
- This is a character-driven novel in which the plot seems to take second place to the characters. But of course it’s what happens to the women and the way they think and act that creates a rich and satisfying story.
- The portrait the author draws of beautiful, strong yet vulnerable women who have shared a long history which may not continue without Sylvie. I loved these women while at the same time they sometimes exasperated me. They felt like friends.
- Charlotte Wood creates surprises, even shocks, to form a fascinating story with unexpected twists and turns.
- The way in which the author foretells events so that a second reading reveals the careful structure of the novel.
- Amazing language throughout, together with attention to the minutest details. Even the mundane task of making a grocery list, in Charlotte Wood’s prose, develops into a delicious piece of writing.
- The setting. A derelict house rises high above the road, without a view of the ocean but within hearing distance of the waves. The palpable heat in the house which distresses the women, and Finn. I felt as if I’d been to that beach, swum in that water, walked in that park.Author Charlotte Wood
I have enjoyed and admired Charlotte Wood’s writing since I read her second novel, The Submerged Cathedral, published in 2004 and I think The Weekend is her best book. As a downsizer, I have let go many of my books. But The Weekend is a keeper.
Australian Women Writers Challenge
This review is part of my commitment to the Australian Women Writers Challenge 2019.
If you enjoyed this review, you might also like my reviews of the novels below. You can read more by clicking on the title.
Too Much Lip, by Melissa Lucashenko
Dustfall by Michelle Johnston
Invented Lives, by Andrea Goldsmith