The Other Side of the World

The Other Side of the World

A Novel

Book - 2016
Average Rating:
6
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"An exquisite meditation on motherhood, marriage and the meaning of home." -- The New York Times

In the tradition of The Hours and Revolutionary Road comes a "beautifully written and atmospheric" (Hannah Kent, author of Burial Rites ) novel set in England, Australia, and India in the early 1960s.

Cambridge, 1963. Charlotte is struggling. With motherhood, with the changes brought on by marriage and parenthood, with never having the time or energy to paint. Her husband, Henry, cannot face the thought of another English winter. A brochure slipped through the mailbox-- Australia brings out the best in you --gives him an idea.

Charlotte is too worn out to resist, and before she knows it they are traveling to the other side of the world. But upon their arrival in Perth, the southern sun shines a harsh light on the couple and gradually reveals that their new life is not the answer either was hoping for. Charlotte barely recognizes herself in this place where she is no longer a promising young artist, but instead a lonely housewife venturing into the murky waters of infidelity. Henry, an Anglo-Indian, is slowly ostracized at the university where he teaches poetry. Subtle at first, the ostracism soon invades his entire sense of identity.

Trapped by nostalgia, Charlotte and Henry are both left wondering if there is any place in this world where they truly belong. Which of them will make the attempt to find out? Who will succeed?

"An exquisite and clear-eyed story of the ambiguities of love and creativity, motherhood and migration…It's a thing of beauty and honesty, as big as the whole unmoored world, and as particular as a family's moments and moods," (Ashley Hay, author of The Railwayman's Wife ).
Publisher: New York : Atria Books, 2016, ©2015.
ISBN: 9781501133121
Characteristics: 240 pages ;,24 cm

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a
anyothergirl
Feb 24, 2017

Beautifully written. Both Henry and Charlotte were well-drawn characters, and I found Henry's love for Charlotte but utter cluelessness palpable, while Charlotte's loss of identity and depression were clear and sad. I felt sorry for her. The book opens with an explanation of nostalgia and this book is as much about nostalgia for a different time in one's own life as it is for any place (though both Australia and England and India are all vividly depicted). While I can't say it was my favourite read, I appreciate books that get me thinking the way this one did, about relationships, sacrifice and compromise, and yes, identity and home.

k
KindaSassy
Nov 09, 2016

It is a mere slip of a book at 237 pages, but it is meaty and requires of the reader a commitment to engage with the piece.
It is the story of Charlotte and Henry who immigrate with their two babies from England to Australia in the mid 1960's. It is a tale of a woman struggling with the loss of herself into parenthood and who suffers with post natal depression. This is a beautifully written book that spans several years and the struggle of a young couple trying to find a place where they both belong. It is told in an omnipresent voice; we are privy to both Henry's and Charlotte's inner thoughts and feelings.
This book watches the slow descent into depression that leads to a character making a life altering course of action. This is not an easy book to read. Charlotte isn't a particularly nice character, and she triggers pity, anger, and, to some respect a kind of understanding of her actions in the midst of misery. Mostly it triggers confusion for her deeds and choices. We also see the inner personal struggle for Henry, of Indian extraction as he struggles to find a place where he feels he is accepted and belongs. It is a painful look at the division of duties in the 60's when the sexual liberation was just beginning but choice and freedom came too late for many. It looks unflinchingly from an insiders point of view being lost to self and feeling little more than a slave to conventions.

c
Cas22
Jul 16, 2016

This competently written novel evokes a strong sense of place as it describes the contrasting landscapes of England and Australia and explores the power of geography in forging and sustaining identity. It also traces the growing disillusionment of the central character, Charlotte, with marriage, motherhood and life – a situation that moving to another country only exacerbates. However, Charlotte’s unrelenting malcontent made this book, for me, very hard to enjoy. In the end, I just felt exasperated, not sympathetic, and had to slog my way to the final page.

stewaroby Mar 01, 2016

Winner of Readings Prize for New Australian Fiction 2015. Hannah Kent was guest judge and she said it was "beautifully written and atmospheric".

j
jr3083
Oct 20, 2015

A beautifully written and deeply authentic book about loss and identity as a young family emigrates to Australia in the 1960s.

k
katelh
Aug 26, 2015

I know this book has received a lot of praise, and I was looking forward to reading it. But it just wasn't for me. I couldn't get into it. Although beautifully written, I really didn't like Charlotte, and in the end, hated what she did.

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