“Never judge a book by its cover,” they said.
They were right.
I looked at the titles (The Blue Handbag and The Letters) and covers (contemporary women in flowing dresses) of Fiona Robyn’s previous novels, and decided that they weren’t a high priority. Probably something between chick lit and aga saga – readable but not unmissable.
I was wrong.
Fortunately a Tuesday Teaser steered me towards a third book:
“I’d be happy just lying on my back in the middle of a busy pavement, people stepping over me and cursing me for getting in their way. It does something strange to my senses, blunts them – like eating ice-cream when you have a cold. You’re vaguely aware that you usually enjoy mint choc chip more, but you carry on eating it just the same.”
(from Thaw by Fiona Robyn)
I was intrigued, I discovered that the library had it in stock, and in due course I picked it up.
Thaw follows the journals of a thirty-two year-old woman over a three-month period. The three months that she has set herself to decide whether or not she should end her life.
Ruth has a successful career as micro biologist, a well-ordered life and a good standard of living. But what does it all mean?
In her journal she writes about the details of her life. About her work and her colleagues. About her two close friends – one in a new relationship and one going through a difficult break-up. About her relationship with her father and his new family – her mother died when Ruth was very young. And about Red, the artist she has commissioned to paint a portrait to record her life.
And, of course, she ponders that crucial question.
Every detail rings true.
Ruth is spiky, but Fiona Robyn brings her to life so well that I found it impossible to resist following her story, getting to know her better and, ultimately, finding out what happens to her.
The world of the depressive, the way you are drawn into yourself, the way just small things can lead to elation of despair is perfectly realised. And I’m afraid I speak from experience.
No, Thaw isn’t a cheerful book, but it certainly isn’t a miserable one either. Engaging and thought-provoking are the expressions that come into my mind.
And it also comes into my mind that I really must look out for those other two books that I had disregarded.