Review Blog

Sep 09 2015

The other side of the world by Stephanie Bishop

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Hachette, 2015. ISBN 9780733633782
(Age: Adults) Highly recommended. Themes: Marriage; Identity; Sense of Home, place and identity. What a beautifully rendered book, crafted with great skill to reveal the intricacies of a relationship and the struggles for those who feel they have lost themselves when they lose a sense of place, or take on the role of parent and leave behind their sense of self. This is a book for adult readers. It explores the difficulties of maintaining a marriage as well as self-expression in the 1960s. The author demonstrates incredible skill - painting a picture with words that is both delightful and achingly poignant.
The gentle reflections and struggles for the young woman in this story are so gently shared that the story has great power in communicating very potent emotions. The reader understands, but at the same time is puzzled by the difficulties she faces as she becomes a migrant to Australia, leaving behind her history and the small things that form part of her certainties. As she struggles with the emotional impact that this dislocation has introduced into her life, she flounders in her relationship with her husband and slowly they drift into uncertain waters.
To rediscover herself she eventually makes a very difficult decision. All the way through the book we are able to feel her pain, but also to wonder how she could inflict pain on her family. Her relationship appears healthy, and yet it is still not enough. The husband she hurts as her dissatisfaction grows is also a victim of the loss of home and his pain and his gentleness and lack of anger are revealed with amazing skill. Bishop's crafting of this book is poetic and extremely potent in revealing emotional complexities.
Carolyn Hull

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