Ellis Leigh, a woman of a certain age, has adopted a solitary life. From her reduced circumstances and with measured introspection, she reflects on her situation and the chain of events that have led her to this bungalow, to this garden, to this isolation.
An unsettling contemplation of human behaviour, this is a story beautifully rendered by rich imagery, intricate detail and the acute observation of small-town New Zealand. [Larger font]
Most of our members did not like this book - even the lady who chose it! It was disjointed and hard to initially work out whether it was the present or past tense. Some found it strange that she would let herself get into that position and others understood how NZ society expects that women are expected to be part of a couple and need to be matched up to be happy when this is not true. A whole story about the son that wasn't explained. It did create a good discussion but not many liked it.
Most members found the story confusing moving between the past and present tense. Described as quite dark in places, even melancholy, it did however cover a lot of relevant issues. The character came across as "disconnected" at times, almost as if viewing her life from the outside. An interesting style of writing.
It was agreed by those that completed it, that the story was an interesting insight into domestic abuse and how one deals with it. The feeling was that this issue should not be dismissed too early - being very real to those who have experienced anything similar. Perhaps that is why this book's appeal is so diverse. Certainly those who read it found it well worth the read.
Although none of us really enjoyed this book (generally rating it 5/10), it provoked plenty of wide ranging discussion with everyone participating.
We agreed that the book meandered, and was short on "action'. But some of us, who said they wouldn't normally choose this book, found it an excellent read. It seemed to be an "emotional" book, about a sensitive and reflective woman. Some commented they wanted her to "just get on with it". Others thought that the backwards and forwards style is more like we think when we reflect back on our lives.
Generated robust discussion with some thoroughly enjoying the book and others not. Most had strong opinions and everyone agreed this book provoked the best discussion so far.
This book generated good discussion about NZ writing. Some found it hard to follow the twists and turns, but some enjoyed the glimpse of small town NZ.
This book really resonated with one of our group, who thought it illustrated the situation that a widowed middle-aged woman can experience, particularly in provincial NZ. The rest of the group, whilst appreciating the quality of the writing, felt little empathy for the main character, and disliked the meandering style. The men in the group, lamented the lack of plot!
A thoroughly engaging read. Perfectly illustrates the differences between "solitary" and "lonely".