By Charlotte Wood
Riverhead Books, 9780593086438, August 2020, 272pp.
The Short of It:
Started off as a sweet story about three friends coming together after a friend’s death, but then was punched through with sadness and a little darkness which I was not expecting.
The Rest of It:
After the passing of their friend Sylvie, Adele, Jude, Wendy and her dog Finn, arrive at Sylvie’s old beach house to prepare it for sale. Adele, a former actress who still has her looks about her, prances around, flaunting her flexibility which she still possesses even in her 70s. Jude, the most sensible but also the most abrasive of the trio, puts up with her to a point but lets everyone know when they are annoying or slacking at the task at hand. After all, they have a job to do.
Wendy arrives a little sad over the death of her friend but also sad about the husband she lost and the next chapter of their lives. They aren’t getting any younger. By her side, is her sweet dog Finn who is also getting on in his years. So much so that he has anxiety attacks, paces relentlessly and has accidents, regularly. Wendy knows that she should put him down, but can’t bring herself to do so. Poor Finn.
The author does a magnificent job of capturing that fleeting feeling of time passing too quickly. In their prime, these four women were formidable and strong, successful and bonded through friendship. But in their 70s, they are tired and short with each other as they each figure out how they fit together without their friend Sylvie. As insecurities flare and one big secret is revealed that threatens to destroy their friendship, they pause for a moment to figure out where they want to go because even at this age, they have choices.
I really enjoyed this book and the writing in particular but there was one big problem I had with it and it’s the treatment of the elderly dog, Finn. I know that a beloved dog approaching the end of its life was probably intentional given that these ladies were also getting on in years and approaching the last stage of life, but the way this poor animal is treated by the other ladies in the house really bothered me. He’s full of anxiety, pushed around, forced to sleep outside even though he’s terrified of his own shadow. I really do not know why the author chose to include such horrible treatment of this poor dog. It was terribly disappointing and I felt, a poor choice and unfortunately affected how I felt about the book overall.
If you can get past these moments with the dog, then you might appreciate the writing, as I did. But I felt so sorry for this poor pup. I really did.
Source: Review copy provided by the publisher.
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12 thoughts on “Review: The Weekend”
I borrowed this from the library but returned it unread after reading a few reviews. Normally I love reading books with seniors as central characters but anything with animal abuse or neglect is a trigger and makes me want to toss the book – it definitely affects my review or makes me stop reading.
One book this year would have been 5/5 had it not been for a cat-incident. Joe Hill is one author I will no longer read as one of his books had animal abuse and it was a DNF and caused me to avoid him ever since.
Any author who uses this type of gimmick, can’t be an animal lover IMO.
Perhaps better editing would have helped with this one because the owner of the dog clearly adores him but she doesn’t stand up for him or do what’s right by him when the other two characters gang up on him. All the smelly dog references and the bullying when the poor animal is clearly terrified was just too much.
I agree with you about animal mistreatment colouring my view of the entire book. I haven’t read The Weekend and I’m sure now that I won’t be doing so! Such a shame.
The editor really should have trimmed those bits down. There are just too many cringy moments where the dog is mistreated in some way. If either of my friends behaved that way towards my beloved dog I’d punch them in the face.
Yikes. forcing an older dog to sleep outside? ugh Don’t like it! We spoil our dog crazy … any animal things like that I can’t handle. We have a medium sized dog and she sleeps at the bottom of our bed and it’s the best! ha. stories with animals mistreatment are too tough for me!
You would not be able to read this one. It’s really very cruel how this older dog is treated. I don’t understand why the Editor didn’t say something about it. Our pup sleeps with us too and she gets tucked in every night. No way would I even allow someone else to treat her poorly.
Ok. The dog stuff would bother me for sure, especially as it seems only to serve as a metaphor for their lives, which probably wasn’t necessary. But, I also totally “get” a book about getting older. Sigh.
I was sold up until reading that the dog was mistreated. I’m a huge dog lover and wonder why the author chose to add such a horrible thing to her book. That may stop me from reading any of her books.
will stop me, not may
I’d have to read another book by her to see if it’s a thing with her. I doubt it. I think it was to represent the aging in general but there was too much of it. Should have been trimmed way down. If my close friends ever treated a beloved pet of mine like that they’d not be friends of mine for long.
I think those bits would have upset me as well. This sounds like something that doesn’t bring much to the story.
The fact that the dog was in such poor shape and the constant thought of having to put him down was supposed to, I believe, emphasize that our time on this planet is limited and that we can’t live forever. Okay. Got it. Now stop treating the poor animal like that. Geesh!!