Title: A Curious Intimacy
Author: Jessica White
Blurb: In the 1870s two remarkable women meet in a remote country town in Western Australia. Ingrid is hundreds of miles from home, trying to distance herself from a broken heart after her lover was forced to marry. Ellyn is a young woman living in stark isolation and driven close to madness by the death of her baby daughter. Ellyn’s husband is away indefinitely, and she’s had no word from him. When the two women meet, they forge a bond that grows ever deeper. But can their intimacy find acceptance in their conventional world?
My Thoughts: A CURIOUS INTIMACY is Jessica White’s first novel; it won the Sydney Morning Herald’s Best Young Novelist for 2008 award. It is a gentle read that meanders along taking the reader with it; in fact I found it to be almost ethereal in its feeling at times. Ingrid is wealthy, and a very strong character, pedantic to the nth degree, she is unusual for women of that time because she is very independent, and the story opens after she has travelled thousands of kilometres alone in the Australian outback researching and collecting flowers. She has a close relationship with her father who brought her up as he would a son. The love of Ingrid’s life, Helen, betrayed Ingrid by choosing to bow to convention and marry a man she didn’t love rather than live openly with Ingrid. After she injures her foot Ingrid seeks shelter and meets up with Ellyn, who is all alone and maddened with grief after the death of her child. Ellyn’s husband is away and has been for a long time. Ellyn hates the bush – the complete opposite to Ingrid who is at one with it. Ingrid is drawn to Ellyn and becomes jealous of Ellyn’s love for her absent husband, a love that seems to hint of being very idealistic, more of a love of being in love. Then the husband returns and the reader is now prepared for there to be some interesting events ahead. There are a few interesting subplots brought out – the difficulties of communication using the 18th century mail service, when does a deep friendship cross a line, what resources women had to protect themselves from people they should be able to trust, dealing with life in a small town that turns it back on some things but openly gossips and condemns on other less important events. The relationship between the two women was very realistic, as too the way men assumed that a single female in a small town as a potential mate and be thankful for their attentions! I did find A CURIOUS INTIMACY to be beautifully written for the most, but a few problems with the flow at times, and the conversations were a bit wooden and forced. I also have to confess that I was a little lost by the final page as to what actually happened, I think I know but maybe I took it the wrong way. Jessica White has written another fiction book ‘ Entitlement’ which I shall be seeking out in due course.
Rating: C – Above average. Was very readable and enjoyable.
For more about the author – Click Here
A Curious Intimacy is book # 25 for AWW2013