A Week to Remember by Esther Campion

‘Want what you have.’

Mick and Aisling Fitzgerald have been gifted a week at Lizzie O’s guest house, outside Cork, in Ireland. Aisling is busy and has a lot on her mind. She agrees reluctantly because it is Mick’s birthday and their fifteenth anniversary. The couple leave their children with Mick’s mother in Tasmania and head to Ireland. At Lizzie O’s, they will meet their hosts Emily and Gerry and their fellow guests: Declan Byrne, a dentist from Cork whose life is not bringing him much joy, Edwina and Prue who are on their honeymoon, Mia Montgomery from Melbourne who wants time and space to think about her future, and Katie Daly who has returned from New York to look after her mother for a while.

The past will engulf some of the guests, while others are struggling with the present. The guest house itself is beautiful and provides the perfect backdrop for Ms Campion’s story. What will a week at Lizzie O’s bring to each of the guests? Will Mia find the answers she is looking for? Will Katy be able to come to terms with the past? Can Declan find peace?

The story begins and ends in Tasmania, in a part of the coast around Hawley Beach that I knew well as child over half a century ago. The stories of Mick and Aisling, and Mick’s mother Lillian, and of Katy particularly held my attention. I enjoyed Ms Campion’s depiction of Ireland, and while I no longer recognise the quiet solitude of the Hawley Beach of my childhood, I loved the setting.

I enjoyed this novel, with its well-developed characters and their various quests for happiness and meaning. I finished the book feeling very satisfied. This is the first of Ms Campion’s novels I have read: I will look out for her others.

Note: My thanks to NetGalley and Hachette Australia for providing me with a free electronic copy of this book for review purposes. 

Jennifer Cameron-Smith