If home is where the heart is, when does a house become a home—or, conversely, stop being one? Two women struggle to find the answer.
Soon after Lucy Kiss, her husband, Ben, and their baby, Tom, move from Sydney to Brisbane, Lucy’s original enthusiasm sours as she struggles to find her footing in less-familiar surroundings while adjusting to the demands of full-time motherhood. Lucy is interested in learning about the house's former owner, elderly Elsie Gormley, who lived there all her married life and decades more after her husband died. Elsie’s children have moved her to a nearby nursing home—and sold the house to Lucy and Ben—but Elsie's memory still takes her home in her mind. And perhaps she actually wanders there, or so Lucy suspects. Lucy’s fascination grows as she discovers photos left in the attic. She begins to feel Elsie’s presence and see footprints on the damp lawn in the morning, much to Ben’s chagrin. And Elsie seems equally interested in the new occupants of her former house. Her aging memories give the book a timeless sense of marriage and motherhood and perhaps a flicker of what Lucy may find in her future. The home that Elsie must give up with regret, Lucy must learn to love. This is typical of Hay (The Railwayman’s Wife, 2013, etc.), who slowly weaves a tale of past and present lives, exploring the sense that the gap between the two women is not impervious to sensitive souls. Both Elsie and Lucy are finely and sympathetically drawn, and their lives highlight issues that affect many women.
A cerebral tale, slow-moving but profound.