Sunday 2 August 2015

The Other Side of the World - Stephanie Bishop

Cambridge 1963. Charlotte struggles to reconnect with the woman she was before children, and to find the time and energy to paint. Her husband, Henry, cannot face the thought of another English winter. A brochure slipped through the letterbox gives him the answer: 'Australia brings out the best in you'.

Charlotte is too worn out to resist, and before she knows it is travelling to the other side of the world. But on their arrival in Perth, the southern sun shines a harsh light on both Henry and Charlotte and slowly reveals that their new life is not the answer either was hoping for. Charlotte is left wondering if there is anywhere she belongs, and how far she'll go to find her way home...

What did I think?

This book was so vivid I felt I was there in the stormy tempestuous English countryside and the sticky hot Australian sun.  The passages involving the children were so clear and emotional that I did gasp out loud on several occasions, especially the part about the untangling of Lucie's hair where I felt every brush stroke and heard every scream.

I can understand why Henry wanted to leave England, with the cold and damp causing health problems for his children, and it was easier for him as he was originally from India.  Charlotte, however, had roots in England - it was and always would be her home, but to keep the peace she agreed to emigrate to Australia.

At the start of the book, Charlotte finds out that she is pregnant with May.  She's not overjoyed at the news as she never really bonded with Lucie.  I found her quite detached at times, a little bit unhinged and perhaps suffering from post-natal depression but her actions started to become more disturbing as time went on.  She didn't seem to be cut out to be a mother and, suffering from homesickness, can't stop thinking about returning home to England.  A dream that does become a reality, at a startling cost.

Henry seems oblivious to Charlotte's suffering, in fact he seems oblivious to everything including the fact that he is not white.  The racism is cleverly hidden by the perpetrators as they dole out their injustices and Henry's Australian dream doesn't live up to the description in the brochure.

It's a really interesting book about fitting in to a new place of work, a new country or even within your own family.  It's beautifully written and did pull at my heartstrings, despite my disappointment in Charlotte's decisions.

I received this e-book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

My rating:

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