PASSING REMARKS by Helen Hodgman


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Intimations of immortality as a 50-year-old Australian woman in love with a much younger woman are lightened by stylish writing and deft comedic touchesin award-winning Hodgman’s first US appearance. Rosemary, an academic with a taste for the finer things, has fashioned an agreeable, well-ordered life for herself in Sydney. Even her romantic liaisons are generally more pleasant, if fleeting, than not. Until, that is, she meets Billie, a 27-year-old biker with spiked hair and an equally spiky personality. Rosemary has always been the one to end a relationship, but this time she finds herself deeply infatuated and unwilling to let go. It’s Billie who says that she needs time to think, leaving Rosemary alone as she sets off to visit her hippie mum up the coast, and then other friends farther north. Rosemary is not only heartbroken but suddenly aware that she’s getting old. Her hair’s turning gray; she’s fretting more about life-threatening disease; and a friend’s gift of a book about menopause only serves to deepen her dark mood further. Still missing Billie, she heads to her mountain cottage for a summer vacation. Daphne, an eccentric colleague, shares the place while researching the life and achievements of her mad writer-mother. The vacation’s events include Daphne’s deciding that the best way to present those achievements is to have scenes from her mother’s life tattooed on her body; a serial murderer’s stealing Rosemary’s car, in which Rosemary has just stored marijuana harvested from her garden; and Rosemary’s unwittingly starring in a lesbian porno movie. Meanwhile, Billie, who nearly drowns while surfing with friends, knows by summer’s end what she’s going to do next and heads resolutely back to Sydney. And Rosemary, home in Sydney too, as she walks alone on the beach, expecting at best a moonlit night, is surprised by a happy ending. A postmodern tale that crackles with intelligence and wit.

Pub Date: June 1st, 1998
ISBN: 0-345-41773-9
Page count: 224pp
Publisher: Ballantine
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1st, 1998