Four Decades of Friendship
There are a lot of novels that tell the story of several female friends over the course of decades – let’s choose four decades, forty years. This book follows that format. Where it differs from other novels is that usually these long-term friends met as children, so forty years later, they are still in midlife. The Weekend, on the other hand, is about women who met in their thirties. Doing the math, they are now in their seventies. Indeed, Jude, Adele, and Wendy have come together for a weekend to clean out the home of their recently deceased fourth friend, Sylvie.
The author does not tell us a lot about Sylvie except that she was gay and had been in a relationship with the love of her life, Gail. But we do learn a lot about the three other friends.
- Jude is a forever-single restauranteur who is in a decades-old relationship with a wealthy married man named Daniel.
- Adele is an actress who has had her moments of success, but perhaps who stayed in the theater too long without ever getting a “proper job.” When we meet her, she’s broke, but ever-hopeful. As the author says, “To be an actress was to hold a permanent ticket in a magnificent global lottery. It was one of the things that kept you going, the fantasy possibility of sudden fame, riches raining down upon you. She’d seen it happen often enough. It could still happen even later in life.”
- Wendy is the only one who had children. As we meet her, she is not on good terms with either of her adult children and she is still shaken by the long-ago death of her husband, Lance. She does not, however have money problems. She has three sources of income. She wrote a book that is world-famous and still used in universities around the globe. She is an academic with a retirement fund. Lance’s clever investments help out as well. In spite of all this, she still wants more from life. She wants to write another blockbuster book.
Another character that needs introduction is Wendy’s ancient dog, Finn. Readers will be broken-hearted over how disabled Finn is. Perhaps it is because I am not a pet lover that I wondered repeatedly why Wendy did not put him down?
I am not sure why the writer included this ancient pet, but I’m guessing she used him to give us the aging process once removed from humans. But with protagonists in their seventies, it’s hard to keep that topic at bay. Jude’s thoughts while looking at Finn do not help: “This [is] what [happens] to animals, and to humans: [we are] all failure and collapse, all decay. It [is] pitiful”
In spite of this, by book’s end, Jude is starting a new phase of her life. Adele is still looking for her big break. Wendy sees signs of big things on the horizon. And together the three friends brace themselves for what comes next.