Roadside Sisters by Wendy Harmer (2009)
I’ve never been a fan of reading ‘chick lit’ but this book fell into my lap by chance and I can honestly say that I’m happy I read it. Ok, so it’s not going to win any prizes for the overly metaphoric writing style (another simile anyone?) or the somewhat predictable plot line, but I can say that there is something heart warming about reading a clichéd story of feminine power.
The novel’s first chapter is not it’s strongest; in fact I highly doubt Harmer needed to include it at all. It could have been because of the sleep deprivation a SAHM to a 3 month old experiences but I had to re-read the first chapter to get my head around the flurry of female characters being introduced to me. Usually, if I struggle with the beginning of a book I don’t bother putting myself through any more misery and carefully place (read ‘stuff’) it in the back of my ever growing bookcase never to emerge again… until there is a fundraiser selling second hand books. Yet, I persisted with this particular novel and my reward was a day of entertaining reading and ‘half chuckles’ out loud.
Harmer constructs three middle age female characters, each with their own emotional baggage, in the hopes that her reader will identify with one of them; the overweight, under confident wife of ex AFL player and mother to three boys, the lonely divorcee business woman with a drinking problem and a slightly older business owner who has a better relationship with top of the range house ware than her own children. The unlikely friends go on a road trip to attend the wedding of the latter and attempt to create a meaningful relationship with each other.
As the ladies travel the 2000 kilometres from Melbourne to Byron Bay in a mobile home, the reader enjoys relating to and learning about the iconic landmarks and country towns along the way. As you could imagine, most of the conflict in this plot stems from the very fact that three women are sharing a mobile home on the road, however there are also a few references to popular culture and media in Australia that makes the story somewhat realistic and enjoyable. There are many funny moments and plot twists (albeit predictable) as the reader learns that, just like the characters in the book, you don’t have to be Oprah to give good advice to a friend; you just have to be there for them. I’m sure each reader takes away their own message from the book but I couldn’t help noticing the disturbing undercurrent ‘anti-feminist’ message Harmer is promoting to her readers in the resolution of the story.
A fun, ‘easy’ way to entertain yourself between feeds! 6/10.
Louise Hume a first time mother to almost 4 month old Joshua. As a high school English teacher I never got the chance to indulge in reading ‘just for the fun of it’. My goal whilst on maternity leave is to read as voraciously and widely as I can.