People went on about death bringing friends together, but it wasn’t true. The graveyard, the stony dirt — that’s what it was like now . . . Despite the three women knowing each other better than their own siblings, Sylvie’s death had opened up strange caverns of distance between them.
Four older women have a lifelong friendship of the best kind: loving, practical, frank and steadfast. But when Sylvie dies, the ground shifts dangerously for the remaining three. Can they survive together without her?
They are Jude, a once-famous restaurateur, Wendy, an acclaimed public intellectual, and Adele, a renowned actress now mostly out of work. Struggling to recall exactly why they’ve remained close all these years, the grieving women gather for Christmas at Sylvie’s old beach house – not for festivities, but to clean the place out before it is sold.
Without Sylvie to maintain the group’s delicate equilibrium, frustrations build and painful memories press in. Fraying tempers, an elderly dog, unwelcome guests and too much wine collide in a storm that brings long-buried hurts to the surface – and threatens to sweep away their friendship for good.
The Weekend explores growing old and growing up, and what happens when we’re forced to uncover the lies we tell ourselves. Sharply observed and excruciatingly funny, this is a jewel of a book: a celebration of tenderness and friendship that is nothing short of a masterpiece.
Charlotte Wood is the author of six novels and two books of non-fiction. Her new novel is The Weekend, published in Australia in 2019, the US and UK in 2020.
Her previous novel, The Natural Way of Things, won the 2016 Stella Prize, the 2016 Indie Book of the Year and Novel of the Year, was joint winner of the Prime Minister’s Literary Award for Fiction and was the University of Canberra Book of the Year for 2019.
Her non-fiction works include The Writer’s Room, a collection of interviews with authors about the creative process, and Love & Hunger, a book about cooking. Her features and essays have appeared in The New York Times, The Guardian, Literary Hub, The Sydney Morning Herald and The Saturday Paper among other publications.
In 2019 she was made a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) for significant services to literature, and was named one of the Australian Financial Review‘s 100 Women of Influence.
The Weekend is domestic realism at its very best. Four women in the third act of their lives—post-kids or what-have-you, post-marriage, post-menopause and all its trimmings—and they aren’t going to change now. They know each other—they really know each other. But after Sylvie’s death, when the other three gather for a few days, the balance isn’t quite right anymore. Plenty of wine is imbibed, an elderly dog makes mess, and lies are exposed.
This is a funny and honest, thoughtful and real book and there isn’t a hint of pity in the unveiling of the story. Wood wants her readers to see the characters completely, even while they attempt to keep things from each other. The language is rich and clear, and the characters always remain distinct. Perhaps they no longer like each other but they do love and rely on one another, and it’s that dichotomy that drives the tension and drama that builds with the subtlety and sure hand of a master storyteller.
‘Wood’s disarming lightness of tone also teases the women’s many foibles, dancing between empathic close-up and wry distance.’ Susan Wyndham, The Guardian.
‘For Jude, Wendy and Adele, the sense of possibility, of opening up, of not being done yet, does not disappear with age – and why would it?’ Sophia Barnes, Sydney Review of Books.