The story begins with the most unlikely of events, a death at a school fundraising night in the small beachside town of Pirriwee. We then go back six months to begin a countdown of happenings and misunderstandings that will eventually lead to that death.
Jane has moved into the community with young son Ziggy who is just about to start nursery school. On the way to the all-important orientation morning Jane meets Madeline and Madeline introduces her to Celeste. It turns out they are all on their way to the orientation meeting.
This is an upmarket community where the important things in life like money and status are what matter most. The topics of conversation are what someone was wearing, hair-dos, ex husbands, ex wives and school politics. As a single mother Jane is an outsider to this exclusive club but soon finds allies.
There are lots of little sub-plots. Madeline is having problems with her 14 year old daughter, Celeste is unhappy at home and Jane has a deep, dark secret that is going to shatter them all. There are serious issues covered here in a way that I felt was both sympathetic and realistic.
Throughout the narrative we hear commentary from some of those that were there at the fundraiser-from-hell. Everyone has their own opinion as to who was to blame for the untimely death.
I have to say I didn’t love this book. At times, I didn’t even like it and it was tough to go on to the end, but I did always admire it. The writing is confident, the dialogue spot on and the story cleverly wends its way to a conclusion that is unexpected but also neatly ties in all the loose ends.
My problem was the characters and their self-centred, self important ways. After a reading session I felt as if I needed a long walk on a deserted beach to appreciate the simple and good things in life and that I should drag these characters along with me, (away from their poor children), kicking and screaming if necessary and say LOOK AROUND YOU. APPRECIATE NATURE. FORGET ABOUT WHO HAS A BLONDE BOB AND WHO HIT WHO IN THE PLAYGROUND.
Lesson learned. This book has great reviews but it just wasn’t a good choice for me.