One thing I’ve always admired about Liz Byrski is the way she tackles themes like friendship and ageing in a realistic, but warm, manner. After hearing good things about The Woman Next Door, I welcomed the chance to read a friend’s copy.
Over the years, the residents of Emerald Street have become more than just neighbours, they have built lasting friendships over a drink and chat on their back verandahs.
Now a new chapter begins with the children having left home. Helen and Dennis have moved from their high maintenance family property to an apartment by the river with all the mod cons. For Joyce and Mac, the empty nest has Joyce craving a new challenge, while Mac fancies retirement on the south coast.
Meanwhile, Polly embarks on a surprising long-distance relationship. But she worries about her friend next door. Stella’s erratic behaviour is starting to resemble something much more serious than endearing eccentricity…
Byrski has a knack for getting to the heart of issues, reflected in her characterisation as much as the plot. The Woman Next Door delves into multiple issues faced by empty nesters and the ageing – people who still wonder, ‘What am I going to do with the rest of our life?’. Much general fiction is populated by younger characters, with older characters rarely given room to explore their own unfulfilled dreams and desires, unless as a secondary character or afterthought. Byrski reminds readers that ageing does not mean invisibility. It does not mean that philosophical questions about life give way to health concerns. It does not mean that dreams are consigned to the past or the young. No wonder Byrski is so much loved by her fans – she gets them.
A warm and insightful drama, The Woman Next Door will appeal to those who like their fiction served with a slice of reality but with lashings of love.
Available from good bookstores (RRP $32.99AUD, Pan Macmillan). My copy was a loan from a friend.
For more of Monique Mulligan’s writing on books, check out Write Note Reviews
Other reviews you might enjoy:
- Her Mother’s Secret by Natasha Lester – book review
- First Person Shooter by Cameron Raynes – book review
- Faithful by Alice Hoffman – book review
David Edwards is the editor of The Blurb and a contributor on film and television