Book title: The Landing
Author: Susan Johnson
The Landing (Allen & Unwin, 2015): Jonathan Lott is confused. His wife has left him for a woman and he doesn't like living alone. Is it true that an about-to-be-divorced man in possession of a good fortune is in need of a new wife? Would Penny Collins do, divorced herself, school teacher and frustrated artist? What about beautiful Anna, blown in from who knows where, trailing broken marriages behind her? There's a lot happening at The Landing, where Jonathan has his beach house, and he's about to find out how much love matters.
The Landing: Susan Johnson was my creative writing teacher when my first novel was hatched and ever since I have followed her writing career with interest. She never disappoints, and this is especially true of her latest novel, The Landing. On the jacket of the book is a reviewer’s quote ‘an awe-inspiring ability to explore emotional truths’ and I couldn’t say it any better. This novel is Johnson at her finest; experience and maturity saturate the narrative.
A strong cast of characters jostle for centre stage in the small community nestled around the banks of a lake one hundred and fifty kilometers from Brisbane. Though Jonathan is the protagonist of this novel, for me it’s Penny’s story - divorced, her fickle mother is insisting on moving in, her daughter has run off with the neighbour’s husband and Penny just wants to revive a long-abandoned dream of being an artist. This is summed up in rich prose: ‘What were the chances of a middle-aged—no, older than middle-aged—of an ageing, older woman, rushing towards the future, bursting with excellence?’
All characters in The Landing are intriguing and fuel the reader’s desire to know what will happen to them all, but it is the exploration of their internal lives that is the most enthralling for me. If I have a criticism it is that I found the ending a bit rushed as though Johnson has burned herself out and just needed to rap it up. But that’s a small criticism.
Rating: Four star: Definitely worth it.