Written by: Esperance Tide | April 10, 2018
This book’s spooky reputation precedes it. The narrative centres around a woman dying of brain cancer, but somewhere during the writing process the author herself was terminally diagnosed with the same illness, dying six months after it was published.
Told over the course of one wet, gloomy day in Sydney, the story itself is not about death so much as the complexity of family and relationships—from unspeakable betrayal to unspeakable love.
Best is the exploration of the relationship between sisters. The dying woman’s daughter, Ester, has not spoken to her sister or husband since their affair ended her marriage. The betrayal and loss of the sisterly relationship is far more heart-wrenching and nuanced than that of the divorce.
Also an interesting plot device is Ester’s daily dealings with her clients as their therapist, all of who are experiencing different phases and forms of middle-class anxiety and grief. There are plenty of talking points, making this book a good one for a book club.
Blain’s precise and melancholic prose is unbelievable poignant, there is no false sentiment, and it’s remarkable how much depth of character she develops in so few words. Life is short, as the author knew too well, and she wastes no time and holds back no punches in reminding the audience of that.
It should be more depressing but all in all, Between a Wolf and a Dog is an intricate testament to forgiveness and there is warmth in the candour and honesty, and the prevailing of familial love. It’s a great winter weekend read that will likely haunt you long after the last page.
4/5 book worms
Available for purchase from The Book Box
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Friday, 22 January 2021