Title: The Woman Next Door
Author: Liz Byrski
Publisher: 28 June 2016 by Pan MacMillan Australia
Pages: 343 pages
How I Read It: ARC book
My Rating: 4 crowns
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...
With her trademark warmth and wisdom, Liz Byrski involves us in the lives and loves of Emerald Street, and reminds us what it is to be truly neighbourly.
"You know you're the same person but suddenly you see yourself in a mirror or reflected in a shop window and think - who is that old person that looks a bit like me?"
I was attracted to this book for two reasons. Firstly the names of the characters were very close to home which was fun. More importantly, Byrski's novels were purportedly about women in their 40s, 60s and 80s. Now, that makes a change.
On the surface it may appear that this is a simple tale about friends caring and watching out for each other, as they pop next door for a cup of tea or to share a glass of wine on the back verandahs of their homes. Dig a little deeper and you can see there was much more to it. This is a tale about ageing and the anxieties that come with it. Taking a range of people living in a neighbourhood together, Byrski is able to touch on just about something for everyone - whether you be single, married or divorced. How to move forward and create a new life for yourself whilst at the same time deal with social, emotional and physical issues that come with this period in life. It's a huge undertaking and I think Byrski has done a good job. I was particularly touched by the impact of Alzheimer's - something many of us fear for ourselves or those we love.
There were also a couple of really surprising events that I did not see coming that provided additional authenticity to the story. All up I was happy to read this book for the reasons I had selected it - mature women and men and some of the issues they try to navigate in today's world. Its may be about redefining yourself or learning to accept what is.
"The past is the past. We do what we can, what seems right at the time."
This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher and provided through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The quoted material may have changed in the final release