The Bit In Between
Pan Macmillan Australia
There are seven billion people in the world. This is the story of two of them.
After an unfortunate incident in an airport lounge involving an immovable customs officer, a full jar of sun-dried tomatoes and the capricious hand of fate, Oliver meets Alison. In spite of this less than romantic start, Oliver falls in love with her. Immediately. Inexplicably. Irrevocably. With no other place to be, Alison follows Oliver to the Solomon Islands where he is planning to write his much-anticipated second novel. But as Oliver’s story begins to take shape, odd things start to happen and he senses there may be more hinging on his novel than the burden of expectation. As he gets deeper into the manuscript and Alison moves further away from him, Oliver finds himself clinging to a narrative that may not end with ‘happily ever after’.
A contemporary love story that explores all the relationships in the narrative rather than focusing on just those of the protagonists – Alison and Oliver; everyone that comes within their orbit has a unique story, even the minor characters – the taxi driver, the house cleaner, an aunt, members of the band, the passer-by…I loved these little vignettes of life, where we are privy to the personal events that have shaped people rather than just seeing the faces/the facade usually presented to the world.
In a particular I enjoyed reading about the development of the relationship between Alison and Sera and her extended family – seeing how the extended family/community helps to raise the children, “… babies are part of the cycle of nature…the community raises the baby. I (Sera) am not doing it on my own. It is not just my love that will raise these babies.” (p219) This is just one example of the very poignant and astute story telling that forms part of this complex narrative which is punctuated with such observations and hilarious anecdotes.
More than a story of romance and love this is a story of real relationships and personal growth, perhaps this could even be recognised as a contemporary “coming of age” story. Claire Varley writes with passion and exuberance.