'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.
'It's time to rethink old age' - Good Weekend magazine, 5 Oct 2019
'The Weekend is a perfectly balanced encapsulation of the human condition, its melancholy truths set to a delightful melody only Charlotte Wood — one of our greatest writers — could devise ...
Wood’s ability to render complex emotions with incredible lucidity and sympathetic intelligence is exceptional. The Weekend is sometimes heart-wrenching, sometimes joyous, and never anything less than sharply poignant and true. It’s a book that has lingered in my memory, and alongside the new Strout, Patchett and Parrett, ranks among the best books I’ve read this year.'
- Simon Mcdonald, Potts Point Bookshop
'Charlotte Wood’s brevity and precision are showcased like never before in this novel – an evolution of her hilarious and caustic style. Flawless.'
- Ben Hunter, Booktopia
'While the narrative may seem familiar—old friends coming together and having to face the buried resentments and recriminations of the past—Wood handles it with such empathy and dramatic dexterity that it becomes fresh and confronting. She not only captures the awkward navigations that occur when a death permanently disrupts the balance of a long-term friendship, but also how those navigations are shaped by time of life ... It’s refreshing to read a novel that centres the experiences of older women with unflinching pathos and clarity: Wood’s characters are fully formed, flawed but sympathetic in very different ways. The Weekend is a sharply observed portrait of growing old that’s sure to resonate with a broad age range of literary fiction readers.'
- Carody Culver, Books & Publishing magazine
'Between The Children and The Weekend, in among her other books, falls Wood’s blistering masterpiece of 2015, The Natural Way of Things, and in her new novel she appears to have returned to domestic realism from that strange and dangerous land of dystopia armed with a new kind of writerly fearlessness: about style, about the nature of crisis, and about frank and memorable depictions of human behaviour and thought.
The realism of this novel is aerated and elevated by the interior monologues of each woman in turn as they watch each other, react to each other’s words and actions, and muse over questions of ageing, mortality, love and fear ...
'This richly textured novel is about so many things that it’s hard to do justice to all of them. Ideas about friendship, ageing and grief keep sliding kaleidoscopically in and out of focus. But there’s something even deeper going on, something about existence itself, that circles around the ancient dog Finn. Each of the characters has a mysterious epiphany to do with Finn and a brief revelation about simple creaturely existence, in which human fretting and striving seem pointless and inane ...
'Wood’s technique in this novel is masterly. There’s the minutely detailed observation, the delicate shifts in point of view, the variation of style to suit different scenes and moods, and the expert management of escalating drama and tension ... Wood faces down the depressing and frightening things about old age and hints at things that might be used to soften them. Or even, if you’re lucky, to transcend them.'
- Kerryn Goldsworthy, The Sydney Morning Herald / The Age
'The Weekend is a character study and an interrogation of the heart rather than a narrative in search of a plot. With poise and originality Charlotte Wood discloses the lives of three women who are surprised by age. Isolated, in enforced closeness and with hourly confrontation of their own mortality, each woman must look at elements of past choices that have configured the present ... This is a mightily accomplished work. Wood has created an intricate evocation of these anxious lives. Her central preoccupation are the questions: What have I lived for? What have I done with my one precious life? The unvarnished truth is that small acts of kindness defeat even core selfishness. For Jude, Wendy and Adele, the weekend is a sifting through what is important and what is not. Wood, in this engaging, stylish work, suggests that only by attending to the subtle ties involved in connection with others might there be an answer from the echoing void.'
- Helen Elliott, The Monthly
'Charlotte Wood’s new novel, The Weekend, is her best work yet. It is also one of the best novels of the year ... The Weekend delivers when it comes to characterisation, big themes and wit, but it also delivers on plot. Each character labours towards an epiphany in a stylised White-esque fashion, and there is an ending that is satisfyingly unexpected. Wood is a writer who is majestically in control, making it easy for a reader to surrender.'
- Maria Takolander, The Saturday Paper
'OK, I couldn’t wait. It’s not out until October 14 but I read Charlotte Wood’s new novel, The Weekend, last Sunday, in one sitting. Here’s my verdict: wow, wow, wow, wow, wow. This is Wood’s greatest novel yet, and that’s saying something considering its predecessors ... When I finished reading The Weekend, which has a final sequence as powerful as anything in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, a stage drama central to the life of one of the main characters, I had that strange feeling of realising my heart was beating too fast. Yet I hadn’t left the couch in a few hours, except to make a cup of tea. I’m not going to review the novel here. We will run a substantial review nearer to publication date. I just want to make sure it is on your radars. Get a copy as soon as you can.'
- Stephen Romei, Literary Editor, The Weekend Australian
'Wood’s writing continues to grow in assurance which each new work: never fussy, but grounded, and intensely physical ...
'The Weekend is both about and not about aging. Yes, its three central characters are in their seventies, and each in her own way is dealing with the physical, cognitive and emotional effects of entering that period of life. Yet each is also emphatically the same woman she has always been, detesting the prejudices by which she is confronted simply because she has clocked up enough birthdays ...
'For Jude, Wendy and Adele, the sense of possibility, of opening up, of not being done yet, does not disappear with age – and why would it? Notwithstanding the indignities inflicted upon them, and assumptions made about them, solely because of their age, Wood has introduced us to three striving, difficult, vulnerable and engaging women, who are all very much alive.'
- Sophia Barnes, The Sydney Review of Books