Published by Allen & Unwin
Published on October 15th 2019
My rating: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
I received a copy of this book from the publisher, Allen & Unwin in exchange for an honest review.
Sylvie is gone. She has passed away and it is up to her three friends, Jude, Wendy and Adele to clean out her beach house. Tensions are already on the rise before the three have even arrived, with Jude feeling that she’ll be the only one to do any work, Wendy’s worry about Jude’s reaction to her bringing the dog, and Adele about Jude’s attitude and Wendy’s embarrassing way of not looking after her appearance. Sylvie was the glue that held the four friends together, and without her there, the other three feel the strain on their friendship and wonder if it will be able to survive. A confronting story about growing old, dealing with death, and the strain that secrets can have on a friendship.
I found this story to be rather confronting if I’m honest. I live with anxiety and depression, and one of the things that really gets my anxiety going, is the fear of my own mortality. Reading about three friends who are aged in their 70’s who are tasked with cleaning out the holiday home of a close friend who has passed away, made my mind race and the thoughts just spew forth like an unstoppable wave. What will happen when my friends start passing away? How will I handle this? What will I do if my partner passes away before me? How will I deal with the deaths of my parents? My brother? Being in my almost mid 30’s, I’m sure I’m not the only person in the world who has asked themselves these questions, and it was almost enough to scare me of reading the rest of the story, but I didn’t want to stop. I wanted to see how Sylvie’s death impacted her close friends, and how they dealt with it at an age where, unfortunately, death isn’t deemed as much of a shock anymore, it almost becomes expected. Yes, we all die some day, some sooner than others, but for me, it’s still incredibly confronting.
I found the relationships between the three friends to be well written. Jude is abrasive and blunt, and I wonder if she’s like this because it’s how she protects herself from the world. Adele is a drifter and a dreamer, she’s still stuck on her glory days from the stage. And Wendy, well, Wendy seems the most normal of all, she doesn’t want to let her elderly dog go even though it would be the kindest thing to do for him, and she doesn’t worry about what others think. Not like Adele and Jude do. There were times when all three characters annoyed me, but I feel like I dislike Adele the most.
The secret that came out, was unexpected on my part, and I feel that it opened up another dimension to the relationships, and it really gave the characters a chance to show how much they really love each other, though I just wish it was explored a little more? It felt a little rushed, being dumped in the open and then seemingly dealt with in roughly fifty pages. The same as the revelation of another unexpected thing, though it may have flitted through my mind, I was still a little shocked when it was revealed near the end of the book. Once again, we saw how much the three friends really do love each other, even if they secretly hate a lot of things that the other does. It really shows that true friendships have their ugly sides as well. They are real, and raw and it’s not always rainbows and butterflies. Though I must admit, I’m really glad that my close circle of friends are extremely open about everything, and I mean EVERYTHING, with each other. It means there’s literally nothing that can be said or done that will cause embarrassment.
The ending I felt was strangely beautiful. It was such a simple ending, and there’s no great epiphany that solves everything and makes everything okay, it was just…needed. The three women really needed it, and once again, it really did cement their feelings for each other.
I don’t know that I loved it, but it was short enough that I really didn’t want to DNF it. I guess I enjoyed it in some way, as I did care what happened to the characters. I think, if I’m honest, the book made me a little uncomfortable, which in the end, isn’t that what art is supposed to do?