Gosh I loved this book. It’s subtle and witty and sad and beautiful all at the same time. It is not one of those books that will bowl you over with its brilliance or drown you in wonder. It is simply a lovely telling of the lives that people lead and the relationships they share and it is this that makes it a delight to read.
Johnson’s characters are fraught and wonderful and real. They are each stricken with very believable lives which seem to torment them – Jonathan whose wife Sarah has left him for a woman; Penny whose daughter, Scarlett, ran off with a man old enough to be her father; Marie, Penny’s mother, a crotchety old woman who drives Penny mad. And all of these people come together at The Landing; an idyllic place in Queensland that is pristine and far removed from the pressures of work and life. It’s a space outside of time.
There are many wonderful moments in this book and some delightful allusions – “If a separated man – about to be divorced – is in possession of a good fortune, must he be in want of a new wife?” – harking back to Pride and Prejudice. Like Austen, Johnson is preoccupied with the “minutiae of her characters’ lives” and it is this that makes the book so readable.