“This book is impossible to put down and will warm your heart.”
Transit Lounge, 2023. ISBN: 9780645565393. (Age: Adult) Highly recommended.
Any readers who enjoy dark humour will love this easy-to-read book set in post lock-down Melbourne. Initially, the character of Bernard does not come across as personable and the reader may be tempted to stop reading. However, Rachel Matthews skilfully brings her characters to life in such a way as to have the reader very quickly developing compassion and goodwill towards the vulnerable and intriguing characters Bernard, Goldie (his mother) and Minh.
Bernard is entangled in the memory of his wife, Silvia. He literally wears her every day (in a piece of cremation jewellery). Bernard’s relationship with Goldie is strained and he blames Goldie for the death of his father. Goldie is a complex character and Rachel Matthews gradually reveals the depth of her personality and experience as if peeling back the layers of an onion.
Minh, fifty-four, is kind to all and has courage. She keeps her physical health in top form, and consciously reframes her thoughts to find the best in situations and people. Her relationship with her family (particularly her step-father) is strained and is haunted by the events surrounding her arrival by boat as a refugee.
In the world created by COVID-19 pandemic, loneliness was endemic and sparked an increase in the use of online dating apps such as Tinder. This is relayed with humour and insight as Minh and Bernard negotiate the world of dating in middle-age with the help of Tinder and advice from colleagues and friends. Rachel Matthews’ approach is sensitive, yet prompts laugh out loud moments that endear the characters to the reader.
As the characters Bernard, Goldie and Minh edge towards a greater understanding of themselves, each other and their families, the reader is unravelling the hurt and influence of intergenerational trauma in this complex and endearing story.
This book is impossible to put down and will warm your heart.
Themes: Relationships (family, friends, romance), Trauma, Trust, COVID-19..