Reviewed by Wendy Lipke
The title of Esther Campion’s latest offering, A Week to Remember, is most appropriate to the story within the covers of this book. The setting is a renovated holiday destination in West Cork, Ireland. To this place come several parties each with their own stories.
Mick’s mother, Lilian Fitzgerald, has gifted her son and his wife, Aisling, a stay in this beautiful spot while she travels to Tasmania to supervise her teenage grandchildren. This is for Mick’s fortieth birthday and their wedding anniversary, but things are not right between them as Aisling is acting strangely.
Declan Byrne, a dentist in his mid-fifties, has been told by his assistant that he needs a holiday. He is not happy with the person he has become since his wife and children left him. Things in his business have been slipping with numbers down. Thinking of how he used to love hill-walking, he makes the spur of the moment decision to go to this new holiday destination he has seen on a brochure in his work building.
Katie Daly had left this area years ago and had vowed never to return but has reluctantly agreed to look after her ageing mother to allow her sister a break. However, she will not stay in her childhood home so uses this holiday accommodation as her base. She dreads encountering her childhood sweetheart who still lives in the area and whom she blames for the way her life has turned out.
Mia Montgomery had gone to this guesthouse while her husband was away again with work. It was her opportunity to ‘think big, set some goals’ and to ‘somehow find a way out of the holding pattern that had become her life’ (59).
Edwina and Prue from the language school in the same building as Declan’s dentistry also arrive to Declan’s surprise. When he asks them why they were there, he is stunned by Prue’s reply, “Ed and I on honeymoon” (98).
Each of these guests is at a crossroads in their life and some are reluctant to be there. Over the course of the week, these strangers who arrived from many different locations come to bond into a family-like unit. As the book progresses, the reader becomes privy to their lives, their concerns and later to their friendship. This week for all of them becomes a time of reflection, discovering what is most important to them, a time for change and a time of healing. Esther Campion has the ability to convey this to the reader in a way that is interesting, real and compassionate.
With many of the characters having close links to Ireland as well as Tasmania, the author shares the contrasts of these two settings through her description of their landscape and climate. One of the characteristics of this author’s writing is her detailed descriptions and her references to various media of the time. In this novel, she makes reference to TV programs such as Downton Abbey and Nigella as well as tennis player Nick Kyrgios. There is also mention of the WhatsApp technology.
Her writing is interesting and easy to read with the quirkiness of language in this book tinged with the Irish vernacular. One thing I found a little annoying with the layout of the book was the tiny page numbers at the top.
A Week to Remember is the third novel by Esther Campion who grew up in Cork, Ireland but currently lives in north-west Tasmania. I found this book to be an interesting read about human relationships.
by Esther Campion