Hilary and Eva were best friends when they were young, travelling the world. Despite Eva moving to a farm, marrying a surly farmer and having a child, and Hilary living the busy life as a doctor working in the city, when the women get together, they remain close. Many years later, facing a mid-life crisis, Hilary travels to Europe where she bumps into the now-adult son of Eva, Rafael. Rafael is ill, and Hilary feels an obligation to take care of him. But things take a strange turn of events.
I enjoy Capp’s writing, and there were a lot of parts of this story which I was totally on board with, but I found the twists and turns of the relationship between Hilary and Rafael just too strange and unbelievable. But, then, I think that was the point. It certainly wasn’t a book to make you feel comfortable.
Esther Chatwin is a shy woman – but is married to a politician who suddenly finds himself at the forefront of Australian politics. As she readies herself to deal with facing life in the spotlight, under scrutiny and needing to have conversations with strangers and deal with public life (as opposed to her beloved Prep teaching), she takes a break in Gotland, a small island in the Baltic Sea, with her sister, a lawyer living in England and under treatment for cancer, and her sister’s old friend, sculptor Sven.
I really like Fiona Capp’s style of writing. There is beautiful language and description without it being overwritten, the characters are well created and interesting. Yet, I didn’t fully engage with this. Even though each chapter was labelled with a month and a year, I found I struggled to keep a timeline in my brain. I think it may have been because I found it difficult to sympathise with the difficulties of a woman in a position of privilege. The things that she faces and are difficult to her are all things that she realistically could walk away from with little consequence. She might lose her relationship and possibly some standing in society, but she could do it. I guess I did enjoy the book for it’s writing, not so much the story.