Booktopia’s John Purcell finally sat down to write a review about the book he’s been talking about all year, The Other Side of the World.
The Other Side of the World is a very, very good book.
Let that statement stand there a bit and I will start from the beginning.
It may seem strange to say but I started reading The Other Side of the World on the day it was handed to me because it felt like a good book even before I had read a page. The first few passages confirmed the feeling – I was reading a writer at the top of their game, a writer who could teach me something, a writer who could shake me around emotionally, a writer who could drag me into their story against my will if they so wanted.
I always dance around the subject matter in my reviews. A writer takes thousands of words to say what their book is about. It can’t be satisfactorily reduced. I could say that Stephanie Bishop’s The Other Side of the World is about a couple who immigrate to Australia from England in the 1960s. I could also say it is about motherhood. Or about identity. Or equality. But these don’t quite do.
I can say The Other Side of the World is tense, evocative, emotionally exact, surprising and that it will get people talking. Especially the ending, which we really have to talk about when you’re done.
This is the pick for your book club or reading group. Here is your chance to be ahead of the crowd.
Take my word for it. The Other Side of the World is a very, very good book.
by Stephanie Bishop
A story of melancholy beauty that proves the only thing harder than losing home is trying to find it again.
Charlotte is struggling. With motherhood, with the changes marriage and parenthood bring, with losing the time and the energy to paint. Her husband, Henry, wants things to be as they were and can’t face the thought of another English winter.
A brochure slipped through the letterbox slot brings him the answer: ‘Australia brings out the best in you’.
Despite wanting to stay in the place that she knows, Charlotte is too worn out to fight. Before she has a chance to realise what it will mean, she is travelling to the other side of the world. Arriving in Perth, the southern sun shines a harsh light on both Henry and Charlotte and slowly reveals that their new life is not the answer either was hoping for. Charlotte is left wondering if there is anywhere she belongs and how far she’ll go to find her way home . . .
About the Contributor
Andrew Cattanach is a regular contributor to The Booktopia Blog. He has been shortlisted for The Age Short Story Prize and was named a finalist for the 2015 Young Bookseller of the Year Award. He enjoys reading, writing and sleeping, though finds it difficult to do them all at once.
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