Review: The Reunion by Joanne Fedler


Title: The Reunion

Author: Joanne Fedler

Published: Allen & Unwin Australia  April 2012

Synopsis: It’s been ages since Jo, Helen, Ereka and CJ first became friends through their mothers’ group-back then, life revolved around their small children. Now their kids are pre-teens and teenagers with attitudes, iPods and raging hormones, and life is feeling emptier for some mothers, more liberating for others.  While away together in an old country house with a couple of new friends and plenty of wine and food, it’s not long before the women are discussing men, marriage and parenting, sharing intimacies and confiding vulnerabilities. Friendships are put on the line as the bonds between them are tested and the weekend takes some unexpected turns.  Picking up where the international bestseller Secret Mothers’ Business left off, The Reunion is an insightful, funny and often biting novel about the challenges women face as their bodies change, dreams fade and kids grow up. Ultimately it explores what it means to be a good friend, a good person and a good mother-and suggests that all love is about learning to let go.

Status: Read from April 19 to 20, 2012 — I own a copy {Courtesy Allen & Unwin}

My Thoughts:

It’s been six years since the women introduced in Secret Mothers’ Business have managed to get away for a weekend. Not everyone from the original group has been able to make it but Jo, Helen, Ereka and CJ are joined by friends, Maeve, Summer and Virginia in the large rented country house. Over the course of the weekend, the seven women share wine, food, laughter, tears, secrets and truths, as they candidly discuss men, marriage, children, sex, motherhood and growing older and rediscover the value of friendship.

It’s Jo who is our hostess on this weekend away though it was her best friend, Helen, who took care of the details. Jo is in her forties, a wife and mother to a 13 year old daughter and 11 year old and has been struggling with her changing role as a parent as her children begin to make a bid for their own independence. A bit of a control freak, evidenced by her strict eating regime, and suffering insomnia from the self induced stress, she is looking forward to a relaxing weekend but her anxieties are never far from her mind.
Jo introduces us to the other woman joining her on the retreat, six of them are escaping children and/or partners for the weekend. Easygoing Helen is the mother of four who while mainly content with her life is also a little wistful for the wild freedom of her youth. The first thing Jo notices about Ereka is her weight, but as a mother to a brain injured teenager, the women tend to cut Ereka some slack. CJ is a lawyer, divorced from the father of her three children, but enjoying a new live in relationship. Jo doesn’t know much about Summer, who CJ has invited, but she is pretty quick to judge the pretty blonde Zumba instructor who is on her third marriage, only to find that there is much more to the woman than meets the eye. Jo invited Maeve, a Susan Boyle look a like, thinking she would add something interesting to the group. Though the mother of an adult son, Maeve, a professor in social anthropology, is interested in much more than men and children. Only Virgina has been unmarried and childless, enjoying a glamorous career as a location scout for film and television, she has been friends with Helen since kindergarten though and Jo can’t help be a little jealous.
As the champagne flows, the diverse group chat freely and despite the best of intentions, the topic of conversation soon veers towards family, and children in particular. Each of the women have had very different experiences of motherhood, and I love the honesty with which Fedler allows her character to talk about their experiences. Motherhood, for all the joy it offers, is a tough job and requires sacrifices, both small and large. Each woman is doing the best they can but they all secretly wonder is they are doing it ‘right’. Virgina may be the only childless one in the group but her own mother, with whom she had a complicated relationship, is dying which offers a different perspective to the discussion.
The Reunion is about more than just a exploration of mothering though, is about women reclaiming their identity as individuals, coming to terms with the choices they have made and looking towards a future when motherhood will not define them. For Jo this is the biggest challenge, figuring out how to be a good mother, a good wife, a good friend, and a good person.

The Reunion is a great, entertaining read. If you are a mother, then you will recognise yourself in these characters, in their hopes and fears and regrets. As a mother of four (aged 6 to 15) I wish I could have joined these women, to become part of their candid conversation and share my own stories. Obviously, a girls weekend away is long overdue with my own group of friends.

Available To Purchase

@Allen & Unwin I @BoomerangBooks I @Booktopia

@ Amazon US (Kindle)

About the Author

Joanne Fedler is the best selling author of Secret Mothers’ Business, Things Without A Name and When Hungry, Eat. She studied law at Yale and spent years fighting for women’s rights, counseling abused women and setting up a not-for-profit advocacy centre before settling in Australia and writing full time. Joanne lives in Sydney with her husband and two children teaching creative writing and taking groups of women on writing adventures to destinations all over the world with Women’s Own Adventure while writing full time.

1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Mari @Bookworm with a View
    May 02, 2012 @ 01:29:17

    Love the cover! It’s so great that you are spotlighting local author’s.



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