Review Blog

Oct 18 2019

The weekend by Charlotte Wood

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Allen and Unwin, 2019. ISBN: 9781760292010.
(Age: Senior secondary to adult) Highly recommended. Themes: Age, Friendship, Death, Interaction. Four women, friends for over four decades, rocked by the death of one of their group, Sylvie, are on the way to her beach house, the scene of so many wonderful weekends, to ready it for sale. As they make their way to the coast each is apprehensive, concerned that Sylvie was the one who held them together, worried that the weekend will be a disaster, seeing them go their own separate ways after their long years of friendship.
Jude a former restaurateur is first to arrive. She gets to work immediately with her rubber gloves and bin bags, bemoaning the lateness of the other two, expecting on past experience that she will be left with most of the work.
It is Christmas, and the group always spent this time together, Jude waiting a call from her long term lover, trapped elsewhere with his own wife and children for Christmas.
Adele, a once well known actor, arrives by train. Out of work and in her seventies she is hoping that some money will miraculously appear in the bank account and steels herself to ask one of her friends for a loan to tide her over.
Wendy arrives in her battered broken down car, exhausted after waiting several hours for roadside assist to get her back on the road. She has her ancient dog, Finn with her, a gift from Sylvie and in its frightened state waiting in the car, has weed over Wendy's lap. Jude is appalled at the dog's inclusion and insists it stay outside.
The day does not start well, and Jude allocates each a room to clear out. Full plastic bags go down the travelator on the side of the house, to be dumped on the road below. Memories stall their work.
Breaking for coffee at a local cafe, they bump into a rival actor, Sonia and her producer, Joe Gillespie, and when these two arrive at the beach house the next day for Christmas drinks, tempers flare. Old wounds surface between the two older actors, the producer mischievously provoking the two women, while Wendy and Jude become protective of their old friend, but heat and tension, fuelled by champagne, sees truths said which cannot be unsaid.
This is a wonderful read reflecting the delicate bonds of friendship, the lies we tell ourselves and others, the events which can so easily unravel friendship, but equally put it on a stronger footing.
The three women are forced to face their futures, forced to reassess their friendship, and the part Sylvie played in their lives. It is told with humour that will make the reader laugh out loud, recognising basic truths about relationships, told with a sharpness that comes from critical observation.
Fran Knight

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