The Weekend by Charlotte Wood

When I was sixteen, I visited my grandma one afternoon and, on arriving at her house, found her in tears. The last of the ‘Old Girls’ had died. The ‘Old Girls’ were her life-long friends – a group of women who had met during the War and stayed close for decades. They always referred to themselves as the ‘Old Girls’, even when they were young women. And so suddenly, my grandma was the last Old Girl. It was deeply shocking for me because, until that moment, I had never really thought about friends dying.

This is the subject of Charlotte Wood’s novel, The Weekend. Three friends in their seventies gather for a last weekend at the holiday home of their mutual friend, Sylvie, who has recently died. There’s former restaurateur Jude, organised and bossy; Wendy, an acclaimed intellectual, who continues to write; and beautiful, flighty Adele, a renowned actress whose work has dwindled to almost nothing.  Over the course of the weekend, the dynamics of their relationships are revealed, and the absence of Sylvie felt.

This was something nobody talked about: how death could make you petty. And how you had to find a new arrangement among your friends, shuffling around the gap of the lost one, all of you suddenly mystified by how to be with one another. Continue reading

The 2020 Stella Prize Longlist

Every year my kids’ school has a vital information night on at the same time as the Stella Prize longlist announcement. So, while I would have preferred to be at the Melba Spiegeltent for the announcement, I was instead in a school hall, pretending to listen to VCE study tips and surreptitiously looking at Twitter as the longlist was revealed.

I’m home now and I’m ready to start reading. Continue reading

Stella Prize 2020 Longlist Predictions

The Stella Prize 2020 longlist will be announced tomorrow night.

Unlike the judges, I’ve only read a dozen or so eligible books but I’m aware of a bunch that keep crossing my radar. On that rather flimsy basis, I’m predicting the longlist*. Continue reading

Bookish (and not so bookish) Thoughts

01. I’m sure Australia’s bushfires have made world news. The stats* are staggering and almost incomprehensible. I won’t turn this into a rant about our government’s lack of action (no, even acknowledgment) on climate change but this article is worth a read.

“Australia is the canary in the coal mine.”

Continue reading

My Best Books for 2019

An even spread of excellent books and some truly memorable author events has made 2019 a terrific reading year.

As I’ve done in previous years, I’ll focus on the books that have continued to resonate with me (as opposed to those I gave five stars to as soon as I’d finished reading). Continue reading

Ten years, ten top books

It hadn’t occurred to me to make a list of my top ten books of the decade until I saw such lists popping up everywhere. Given that books, blogging and lists go together like sand and sea, it’s ridiculous that I haven’t been working on my list for months! Continue reading

Two author talks (with three authors)

I went to two author talks last week (both were free events) and I was reminded why it’s ace living in a UNESCO City of Literature.

The first event was part of the Wheeler Centre’s Double Booked series. Favel Parrett and Anna Krien talked about their new books, There Was Still Love and Act of Grace respectively). At the second event, hosted by Readings, Charlotte Wood talked about her latest book, The Weekend (review to come but spoiler alert: I LOVED it). Continue reading