Review: Lucinda’s Whirlwind by Louise Limerick

 

Title: Lucinda’s Whirlwind

Author: Louise Limerick

Published: PanMacmillan May 2012

Synopsis: Lucinda Ellis has never really mastered the knack for dealing with people. Not that she is shy. To the contrary, she is too forthright by normal standards, and has no qualms telling others exactly what is wrong with them. So she usually avoids people. Until her sister, Jayne, decides to take a sudden trip to America and Lucinda’s perfectly ordered life is thrown into chaos. Naturally, Lucinda is determined to do things her way while Jayne and Brian play out their mid-life crises. But as life begins to spiral out of control, Lucinda reaches a turning point. She discovers that her way isn’t working, and she’s going to have to find the courage to do something that she has always been terrified of… open her heart to new relationships and possibilities. Read an Excerpt

Status: Read from May 08 to 10, 2012 — I own a copy {Courtesy PanMacmillan Australia}

My Thoughts:

Lucinda’s Whirlwind is a character driven novel that explores the themes of change, self discovery, grief, relationships and family. This is the second novel for Australian author, Louise Limerick, who was named the SMH Best Young novelist in 2004 after the publication of her debut, Dying For Cake (published in the US as Friends & Mothers).

Though told in the third person, most of the story unfolds from the alternate perspectives of Lucinda, Jayne and Brian, which is essential to understand the personal challenges each character faces when change is thrust upon them.
Change is hardest for Lucinda whose Asperger Syndrome like traits of uncompromising honesty and social awkwardness leave her overwhelmed when negotiating the needs of a family. Lucinda can’t imagine why her sister, Jayne, usually reliable and thoughtful, would abandon her husband, Brian, and children to jet off to America with barely a word of warning and she is not happy about being left to care for eight year old Maddison, fourteen year old David and teenage couch surfer Wesley, when Brian is trapped by a grounded airline and cyclonic weather on a remote island of the coast of North Queensland. Lucinda is not fond of people in general, finding it difficult to deal with their complicated emotional needs and confusing social rules, and she is almost immediately overwhelmed by the demands of caring for others, including the dog, Wilma. She has no real choice though but to learn to manage Jayne’s previous responsibilities (albeit with help from a housekeeper) from chaperoning the school ‘walking bus’ to ensuring Maddison doesn’t gorge on chocolate chip cookies for breakfast. While Lucinda continues to yearn to escape back to the quiet haven of her small, neat flat and work at the museum, she slowly begins to form an awkward sort of attachment to the children, Wes and Keiron, a little boy with Downs Syndrome, who declares Lucinda his best friend. I liked that the author ensured that Lucinda kept her core traits, Lucinda may have learnt to bend a little but she is still blunt and aloof to the very end.

Jayne knows that getting on a plane and disappearing to America is not the responsible thing to do. She should have cancelled the tickets, bought by her mother before her death, but still in mourning she couldn’t bring herself to and feeling lost, she hopes that taking the trip alone will help her find the answers to the questions that have been plaguing her since her mother died. Jayne’s quest is one of self discovery, her mother’s death has led to her wondering about the choices she has made and the direction her life is going. She is no longer satisfied with being endlessly amenable and passive and so forces change by taking off to America. I could understand Jayne’s motivation for leaving, even in her abrupt manner, and liked her courage in stepping out o her comfort zone. I have to admit that I thought the bus tour didn’t really add much to the story though, I thought there was more potential in Jayne spending time with Elise, instead of just her letters, rather than making the journey across the US.

Stranded in a remote aboriginal community on Locke Island in Northern Queensland, Brian can only fret uselessly, wondering why his usually dependable wife would desert the family. Brian has been quite comfortable with the status quo and though he recognised Jayne’s grief for her mother he has to admit, with plenty of time to think, that he was more interested in things getting back to normal than what his wife needed from him. Brian learns that both in his personal life and work, he needs to listen more, and while not comfortable with the idea of change, he loves his wife and is willing to do what it takes to ensure her happiness.

Lucinda’s Whirlwind is a thoughtful, introspective story told with quiet humor and honesty. I didn’t find it a fast read, the lack of action in the plot slows the pace, but it was able to hold my interest with interesting characters and tender moments.

Available To Purchase

@PanMacmillan Australia I @BoomerangBooks I @Booktopia

@Amazon {Kindle}

About the Author

Louise Limerick was born in 1970. In 2004 she won the Sydney Morning Herald’s Best Young Novelists Award for her first book, Dying for Cake, which was also chosen as an Australian Women’s Weekly Great Read. Currently, she divides her time between her family and her emerging career as a novelist. She lives in Brisbane with her husband, her three children and her two dogs – one of which may be the prototype for that annoying dog, Wilma. Lucinda’s Whirlwind is her second book.

Website

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Stephanie @ Read in a Single Sitting
    May 14, 2012 @ 12:05:19

    This one arrived on my doorstep while I was away, and I’m looking forward to it, although I’ve noted your reservations about the slow plot. Good characters can often trump a lacking plot for me, so hopefully this one will be more up my alley. Thanks for the review!

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  2. Trackback: Contemporary, Popular, Mainstream, Women’s Fiction: 2102 Tally | Australian Women Writers Challenge Blog

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