July 2020

The Weekedn by Charlotte WoodThe Natural Way of Things brought Charlotte Wood sensational success: an Australian bestseller, published internationally, winner of the 2016 Stella prize, and numerous other awards. The novel was sharply contemporary in its portrayal of women under duress and evolved into the unwilling sisterhood of The Weekend, our book of the month, also short listed for the Stella Prize in 2020.

The aging characters spend a weekend emptying the holiday house of a deceased friend, Sylvie, opening a number of issues formerly hidden. Wendy, a fading feminist academic, “impossibly but surely” looks like Patrick White as she ages, missing her dead husband, alienated from her adult children, devoted to her ancient dog. Jude organizes the group and methodically cleans the kitchen while Wendy tosses everything into garbage bags and Adele, an out-of-work broke actress with a great body (“for your age”), procrastinates among piles of clothes and records. The true fourth member of the ensemble is Wendy’s labradoodle, Finn, who, demented and deaf, spends the weekend pacing, peeing and threatening Jude’s cast-off white sofa.

Food plays a visceral part in the relationships. Every morsel is significant, from the predictable “stock cubes and tins of lentils” in Sylvie’s pantry, to Jude’s carefully roasted chicken, her prized pavlova and the Wild Hibiscus Flowers in Syrup that Wendy drops into each champagne glass “like a blood clot”.
Baby boomers – and others – will recognize themselves in one or more of these believable characters, whom Wood deftly distinguishes without turning them into caricatures.

In an interview Charlotte Wood told how she “was interested in looking at the difference between how we see ourselves and how other people see us. We don’t necessarily recognise our own flaws while we’re very conscious of other people’s flaws. I find great pleasure in creating characters with that kind of complexity”.

Some readers were annoyed by the ‘childishness’ of the characters, but most felt that they recognised either themselves or their friends in the novel.
Behind the laughs there is deep humanity, intellect and spirituality, qualities that mark The Weekend as much more than old-chook lit.

With thanks to Susan Wyndham’s review in The Guardian.

Ratings: Janet, Pauline, and Diane 3.5; Lynda, Margie, Kim, Jenny, Nicola, Viv, Claudia and Sandie 3.

All going well, our next meeting will be at Preece House on 10/08/20 at 6:30PM to discuss On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong.

Hope to see you all there and happy reading!

 

About Us

We are a group that gets together once a month to discuss good books. Each of us gets to choose a book on a rotational basis, preferably one outside our personal comfort zone – we try to keep the trash to ourselves. After the discussion, we comment on other books we read that month. Most of the time we remain friends after the meeting.

Preece HouseWe normally meet at the 1948 heritage Preece House, 50 Nerang St Bischof Pioneer Park, Nerang (next to 54 Nerang St. shops. This venue has no toilet but here’s one in the park) on the second Monday of every month from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. excluding Public Holidays. A small contribution is required towards the rent of the room, but not if you are a first timer. The amount depends on the number of people attending.
One book title is chosen each month and we all read that book. There is a ‘host’ who introduces and co-ordinates the discussion. The role of host is rotated around the group so that each member has the opportunity to nominate their book (it could also be an author, theme or genre). The host also acts as chairperson for that meeting.
Although we are not a social club (we are readers), we occasionally attend literary events, relevant movies or plays here at the Gold Coast, Brisbane or Byron Bay. We conform to basic meeting practices and everyone has an equal opportunity to express their opinion. Everyone’s interpretation is valid, as long as it’s expressed respectfully.
We welcome any new members who share our aims and are happy to contribute to our group. Newcomers are not required to have read the book to attend the first meeting and no contribution is required from them.
Feel free to have a look at our Booklist for 2020 and Newsletters in the sidebar. If you are reading this blog in a mobile device, switch to desktop view.

CONTACT DETAILS

We meet from 6:30 to 8:30 PM on the 2nd Monday of every month at the heritage listed Preece House located at Bischof Park, Nerang Street (next corner White St), Nerang next door to shops at 54 Nerang Street. While the Covid19 restrictions are on, we will meet online. Please contact us for info on meetings that fall on Public Holidays.
For more information use the contact form.

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