The Long Weekend (Fiona Palmer, Hachette)
Four strangers meet for a weekend writing retreat in an idyllic location south of Perth. While this might sound like a familiar premise for a work of commercial fiction, the individuality of the characters, and the poignancy of their particular issues, make The Long Weekend an interesting read. Fiona Palmer, billed as a ‘rural author’ in the style of Rachael Johns and others, has penned a number of novels, including Sisters and Brothers and Secrets Between Friends. Her latest centres on likeable single mum Beth, who nurses physical and emotional scars from a traumatic car accident in her youth. She attends the writers’ retreat as a mysterious favour to her sister. There she meets ruggedly handsome gym owner Jamie, impeccably presented full-time mum Alice, Instagram weight-loss sensation Simone and acerbic successful author and tutor Jan. True to genre, each character brings their own secrets and problems as, over a weekend of wine, nibbles and intrigue, they transition from wary strangers to supportive friends. Readers can expect a raft of revelations around postnatal depression, secret affairs, hidden identities, parental neglect and untold truths, with a few steamy sex scenes thrown in. While the plot may wade into familiar waters, with its fresh expression, endearing characters and their neatly woven backstories, The Long Weekend delivers to readers the perfect chance to escape from their own lives, if just for a few hours.
Joanne Shiells is an English teacher, editor and former retail book buyer.