Shortlisted for the 2020 Stella Prize
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.
'A compelling and vivid look at the friendships we make as women. Honest, unsettling and, like all good literature, had me asking questions about life and myself.'
Heather Rose, author of The Museum of Modern Love, winner of the 2017 Stella Prize
In Wood's sharp sixth novel (after The Natural Way of Things), three septuagenarian Aussie women gather to help settle the affairs of their dead friend, Sylvie. Jude, a cold-blooded restaurateur and for decades the mistress of a married man, takes charge of the friends' task of clearing out Sylvie's beach house, which is perched on a perilous cliff. Wendy, a bedraggled feminist academic still mourning the death of her husband, arrives with her decrepit dog, Finn, whose ailments mirror the women's own. Late, as usual, comes Adele, a once-celebrated actor who hasn't had a gig in some time. Together, the old friends begin sorting through Sylvie's things. Inevitably, in the process of clearing and discarding, the women unearth old irritations and a devastating secret, causing them to question how they'd ever become friends in the first place. Wood explores myriad possibilities of success, failure, philosophy, psychic ailments, and forms of melancholy that a 70-something woman might experience. While the qualities seem to be assigned almost at random to her characters, somewhat diminishing their effect (Wood likens Wendy to Sontag even though she dresses like "a witless old hippie"), the women are mostly recognizable nonetheless, and painfully relatable. Baby boomers and Wood's fans will best appreciate this astringent story.
A wonderful gripping tale of human interaction and personality
Deep, sorrowful, theatrical
It was hard to finish this book, reading about death and aging and friendship and truth is always hard. I am astounded by this novel. The setting felt so theatrical, and all the women felt so real, multidimensional and human. Highly recommend, but please know, it’s not an “entertaining” read.