I’ve read and loved many of Liz Byrski’s novels, but I was unsure if her latest, The Woman Next Door, would appeal as the main characters are all in their sixties, seventies and eighties – a bit ahead of me. But once I started it I was captivated by them all, and could relate them to people I know.
Four women, some with husbands, were all neighbours and friends, some of them very close. After many years Helen decides to move with her husband Dennis. She has since been ‘increasingly snappy and critical, delivering her judgements without a shred of sensitivity’.
Joyce seems to be the one they are all closest to. She and her husband Mac have decided to live apart for a year, Mac in their house on the coast, and Joyce pursuing something beyond being a wife and mother.
Stella, now in her eighties has retired from her acting career twice before but has been called back to resurrect a character on a television series.
Polly is a writer and being single and has no children can travel the world, and does. While away she meets Leo and she wonders if this can be a relationship that can work for her.
The changes and challenges for each of these characters impact on their relationships with each other, all of which are reflected with authenticity, sometimes humour and then sadness.
Byrski deals with aging, the need for relevance, dementia, family, friendships, marriage and neighbours in her wonderful style that had me missing them after I finished the book.