I recently finished reading ‘The Weekend’ by Charlotte Wood, an Australian author, and overall, I really enjoyed it. I had the sort of pleasant surprise which comes with familiarity. Not because the characters are all old like me, but because they are all travelling up from Sydney to a fictitious town on the Central Coast of NSW.

Adele, comes by train, and I have made this trip myself numerous times. The author describes the beauty of the Hawkesbury river. The train runs along the shore near the river mouth and I assure you that the tree clad banks and islands in this area are always a beautiful sight and well worth visiting if anyone is holidaying in NSW.

Here I must also claim a bit of one upmanship on the Guardian reviewer who claimed twice that the location of the novel is the Gold Coast which is in Queensland.

Back to the book. It has four main characters, three are humans who are long time friends. The forth is the dog Finn who belongs to Wendy. The couple of reviews I have read seem to think that Finn is just a canine manifestation of the physically aging women. I can’t help wondering if his endless, mindless movement and irrational fears are meant to indicate the suppressed emotions of the women as they approach their own deaths. He is such a prominent character you feel he must be there for some significant reason.

The characters are very well drawn and believable throughout most of the book. Being of such different personalities their, often petty, conflicts, form the substance of the plot. Perhaps the ending is a little over dramatic as the author obviously feels obliged to give a suitable denouement to each of them, but in the concentrated time frame of the novel that can seem a little implausible.

There is a piece of very evocative writing towards the end when Wendy, chasing down a panicking Finn finds herself in a church. Perhaps too evocative compared to the rather matter of fact style of some of the novel. But, obviously too good to leave out.

There do seem to be a few geographic anomalies. The house is up a steep hill and apparently twenty minutes walk from the beach with an another uphill walk required. Also the panicked Finn and Wendy seem to reach the beach very quickly when he escapes during the storm. This is just nit-picking but if I am right (and I may have misread) the inconsistency should probably not be found in such a best selling novel.

Oh how good it is to criticize those who write better than oneself.

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