We like to do our bit to encourage a love of reading and discussion of thought-provoking books with our Book Club in a Box. And what better title than The Weekend, the brilliant new novel from Charlotte Wood, acclaimed author of The Natural Way of Things.
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.
Bruny by Heather Rose - ECT (East Coast Tasmania) St Helens
The Unforgiving City by Maggie Joel - The Spent Hens
Where the Dead Go by Sarah Bailey - The Timeout Bookclub
The Nancys by R.W.R. McDonald - The Second Thursday Book Club
The Electric Hotel by Dominic Smith - The Coonara Bookgroup
Life Before by Carmel Reilly - The Book is Better BookClub
The True Story of Maddie Bright by Mary-Rose MacColl - Victoria's Bookclub
Islands by Peggy Frew - STFU Reading Society
Small Blessings by Emily Brewin - The Mothers Rebranded Book Club
The Promised Land by Barry Maitland - The Maitland Group 9
Unsheltered by Barbara Kingsolver - The Beaconsfield Book Club
Cedar Valley by Holly Throsby - The Perhaps Book Club
The Wolf Hour by Sarah Myles - The Claremont Village Book Club
Scrublands by Chris Hammer - The 2nd Favourite Book Club
We See the Stars by Kate Van Hooft - The Page Turners Book Group
Bluebottle by Belinda Castles - The Wild Readers: Adelaide
Eleanor's Secret by Caroline Beecham - BFG: Books, Food, Glasses
Three Gold Coins by Josephine Moon - Mums Who Read
The Passengers by Eleanor Limprecht – Lorraine’s Ladies
Sign by Colin Dray – The Book Chat Lunch Club
Into The World by Stephanie Parkyn – Feminist Fantasy Bookclub
The Last Hours by Minette Walters – the Working and Weary Bookclub
The Life to Come by Michelle de Kretser – Word Salad - The Big Book Club
The Choke by Sofie Laguna – Non-Arduous Book Club
The Way Back by Kylie Ladd – Perth WA Writerly Bookclub
Forgotten by Nicole Trope – The View St Readers
See You In September by Charity Norman – Book Clubbers Sutherland Shire
The Midsummer Garden by Kirsty Manning – Black Jo's Bodacious Book Group
'Charlotte Wood’s new novel, The Weekend, is her best work yet. It is also one of the best novels of the year ... Wood is a writer who is majestically in control.'
'This is a mightily accomplished work. Wood has created an intricate evocation of these anxious lives. Her central preoccupation are the questions: What have I lived for? What have I done with my one precious life?'
"[Wood is] armed with a new kind of writerly fearlessness: about style, about the nature of crisis, and about frank and memorable depictions of human behaviour and thought ... This richly textured novel is about so many things that it’s hard to do justice to all of them. Ideas about friendship, ageing and grief keep sliding kaleidoscopically in and out of focus. But there’s something even deeper going on, something about existence itself, that circles around the ancient dog Finn. ... Wood’s technique in this novel is masterly."
'I read Charlotte Wood’s new novel, The Weekend, last Sunday, in one sitting. Here’s my verdict: wow, wow, wow, wow, wow.
This is Wood’s greatest novel yet, and that’s saying something considering its predecessors.'
'The Weekend is more Big Chill than Handmaid’s Tale, with a dash of Big Little Lies and an echo of Atwood’s The Robber Bride. Wood uses the classic theatrical set-up of a house party to concentrate tension in a tight space ... [it] is perhaps a more serious comedy than Wood originally intended because she can’t help seeing vulnerability and injustice. ...There’s a feast of ideas for friends and book clubs to discuss. The Weekend is a novel about decluttering and real estate, about the geometry of friendship, about sexual politics, and about how we change, survive and ultimately die. Wood has captured the zeitgeist again, with a mature ease that entertains even as it nudges our prejudices.'
'Wood’s writing continues to grow in assurance with each new work: never fussy, but grounded, and intensely physical ... 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? Notwithstanding the indignities inflicted upon them, and assumptions made about them, solely because of their age, Wood has introduced us to three striving, difficult, vulnerable and engaging women, who are all very much alive.'