The story begins during the Second World War with a teenage Ruby leaving the family farm for work in the big smoke, rapidly marrying a soldier departing for the front and then riding the ripples of that decision for the rest of her life.
The delicate yet intimate way in which Goldsworthy describes events – such as resuming a barely consummated marriage after 20 months of separation and trauma – draws the reader into Ruby’s mind, allowing them an almost voyeuristic view of her thoughts. This inner dialogue continues through every phase of Ruby’s life, from motherhood and homemaking to an eventual return to the workforce and a growing sense of self.
The challenges of caring for ageing parents and then her own husband, along with her own ageing, are strong themes of the latter part of the book, exploring the need for not just company but true intimacy in old age.
The voice of the young Ruby, ever optimistic, if a little cautious, comes through strongly to the end, a timely reminder to those of us who have not yet attained old age that physical change does not negate a strong connection to our younger selves.
Author: Anna Goldsworthy
Publisher: Black Inc