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Foibles and Revelations

January 11, 2020


The weekend coverReview: Charlotte Wood, The Weekend, 2019 

The three central characters of The Weekend are accomplished, complex, engaging women: Jude the restaurateur, Wendy the public intellectual, and Adele the actor. They cherish and annoy each other, and I found them easy to love.

The three friends are now in their seventies. They come together to clean out the house of the fourth member of their friendship, Sylvie, who has died. Now they are “shuffling around the gap of the lost one … Despite the three women knowing each other better than their own siblings, Sylvie’s death had opened up strange caverns of distance between them.”

One of my favourite words is foible: “a weakness or failing in an otherwise sound character”. Wood does not use the word but it seems to me that the action of the novel is driven by foibles.

Adele’s foible is vanity. Jude’s foible is disdain for anyone who is not as capable and orderly as she is, which is everyone. Wendy’s foible is her refusal to have Finn, her seventeen-year-old dog, put down, despite his suffering and incontinence. Finn is the fourth main character, and represents the prospect of demented old age that terrifies the women. And each of them tells lies in “all the expected ways”.

Countering these foibles is the genuine love the women have for each other. But, is the “worn rubber band of their friendship” disintegrating?

Charlotte Wood skilfully structures the build-up of tension as the lies the characters tell themselves become more desperate until the novel climaxes with an explosion of truth-telling during a violent storm.

Afterwards, one of the characters realises “my life has not been what I believed it to be.” Now, “she had to understand her life, her children’s lives, from the beginning again.”

Highly recommended.

Single-Rail-Inclinator-Website-1

The women use an inclinator to access their friend’s house by the sea. (Photo: P. R. King & Sons)

 

 

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