Responsible for The Natural Way of Things, a novel that picked up numerous awards, including the 2016 Stella Prize, the Indie Book of the Year and the joint winner of the Prime Minister’s Literary Award for Fiction, Charlotte Wood is regarded as one of Australia’s most exciting and provocative writers. And I personally loved that earlier novel. So expectations were high for her latest, The Weekend.
Despite the three women knowing each other better than their own siblings, Sylvie’s death had opened up strange caverns of distance between them.
Jude, Wendy and Adele are life-long friends – as was Sylvie. Now in their 70s, they are meeting at Sylvie’s beach home for the last time – the house is being put on the market. It’s Christmas and the trio are planning a few days of clearing out the old memories. But without Sylvie to maintain equilibrium, the three struggle to maintain or even understand their friendship. Controlling Jude, a former renowned restauranteur, is less than happy with Wendy, the famed academic writer, bringing her almost incontinent dog whilst there are suspicions that actress Adele may have split up in her latest relationship.
Exploring growing up and growing old, The Weekend is wry and sensitive – yet a little too clean, in spite of long-buried secrets surfacing to hurt. It’s poise is pitch-perfect, it’s narrative accomplished (there’s no forced searching for a plot as such) – but I wanted more of the prescient savageness of The Natural Way of Things, something a little more memorable. The result is a novel that is easily read and quickly dispatched that rarely challenges or demands a reread.