Three women in their seventies reunite for one last, life-changing weekend in the beach house of their late friend.
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.
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 at Sylvie’s old beach house—not for festivities this time, but to clean it out before it is sold. Can they survive together without her?
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 from an award-winning writer.
A lovely, lively, intelligent, funny book… So good on aging and on the fraught, warm friendships between women.”
-Tessa Hadley, author of The Past
“I found reading The Weekend both hypnotic and profoundly unsettling. The prose is sharply vivid and precise, the characters and location exceptionally real, and I challenge anyone to write a better description of an elderly dog and its owner. Masterful.”
- Rosamund Lupton, author of Sisters and Three Hours
“The Weekend positively hums with life even as these three women are approaching the end of theirs. The book is exquisitely wrenching and poignant when dealing with female friendship and old age, yet it still manages to be funny and very real.”
–Claire Fuller, author of Our Endless Numbered Days
“Friendship, ambition, love, sexual politics and death: it’s all here in one sharp, funny, heartbreaking and gorgeously-written package. I loved it.” – Paula Hawkins, #1 New York Times-bestselling author of
The Girl on the Train
“An insightful, poignant, and fiercely honest novel about female friendship and female aging.”
- Sigrid Nunez, National Book Award-winning author of The Friend
“The Weekend is an unflinchingly observed celebration of the profundity and mundanity of friendship, treated with elegance, wit, and tenderness.”
- Kiran Millwood Hargrave, author of The Mercies
"Sharp, funny, beautiful."
- Helen Garner, author of Everywhere I Look
"The most lovingly precise and insightful and funny and sad examination of female friendship ... She has absolutely nailed it. It’s a great, great book.”
- Annabel Crabb, host Chat 10 Looks 3 & Future Women
'The temptation to reduce ageing to a condition experienced en masse rather than by individuals is a trap that snares only lesser writers. The better ones have avoided it – writers such as Nora Ephron and Penelope Lively, and, most recently, Elizabeth Strout. Joining their ranks is Australian Charlotte Wood, whose novel The Weekend conceives of old age as a state of mutiny rather than stasis, a period of constant striving against the world, but also against oneself ... What gives this novel its glorious, refreshing, forthright spine is that each of its protagonists is still adamantly (often disastrously) alive, and still less afraid of death than irrelevance.'
- Sara Collins, The Guardian
'The Weekend captivated me from the excellent opening chapter ... Wood evocatively captures the pasts of these resilient women, and her novel shines with rich symbolism, deft shifts in viewpoint and acutely observed details ... The women show us that change and growth are possible at any age, and The Weekend offers a compassionate message about accepting our different natures ... This wise, funny novel will help you understand yourself.' ★★★★★
- Martin Chilton, The Independent
'Wood finds a beautiful balance between her three women, swivelling between their perspectives on the present and their shared past. The gaps between how a character sees themselves and how their friends see them are astutely drawn, both painfully comic and frequently heartbreaking ... Wood is to be praised for taking female friendship seriously and for being caustically honest – there’s not a sentimental line in this beautifully insightful book.'
- Holly Williams, The Observer
'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
'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
"Faultless cultural vivisection ... The Weekend exposes the pitiful flimsiness of our cliches with the simple (yet radical) act of fore-fronting well-written septuagenarian women."
- Beejay Silcox, The Weekend Australian Review
'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
'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 ... 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
'This is an illuminating novel of friendship, joy and hope, tempered by fear and sadness. Wood describes the ordinary with such clarity, it is at once both tender and devastating. Her skilful observations of the minutiae that make us human ultimately show us who we really are.'
- Karen Viggers, The Canberra Times
'The Weekend is more Big Chill than Handmaid’s Tale, with a dash of Big Little Lies and an echo of Atwood’s The Robber Bride. Wood uses the classic theatrical set-up of a house party to concentrate tension in a tight space ... [it] is perhaps a more serious comedy than Wood originally intended because she can’t help seeing vulnerability and injustice. ...There’s a feast of ideas for friends and book clubs to discuss. The Weekend is a novel about decluttering and real estate, about the geometry of friendship, about sexual politics, and about how we change, survive and ultimately die. Wood has captured the zeitgeist again, with a mature ease that entertains even as it nudges our prejudices.'
- Susan Wyndham, The Guardian