ABBEY'S BOOKSELLER PICK ----- Charlotte Wood's writing dips into a dark palette, steadfastly repelling any saccharine impulse, and as I came to the end of the The Weekend I marvelled at how tremendously enjoyable I found it - despite all the anxiety triggers! Beautifully staged around a waterway retreat north of Sydney, the drama ruminates on ageing, career, personalities and friendship. One of the characters observes that men who don't read fiction are afraid of what they might see in themselves, so this is very much a story for everyone, albeit one that will resonate more keenly with older readers. Craig Kirchner
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