Gotland by Fiona Capp
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Gotland, an island off Sweden, is the place that heroine Esther Chatwin escapes to, mentally and physically, in order to deal with her high-pressure life. Prone to panic attacks in her youth, Esther finds herself catapulted into the limelight after the death of a colleague results in her politician husband David becoming Leader of the Opposition weeks away from an election. This is a disruption in their lives that she was unprepared for and, coupled with the news that her sister is dying of cancer, Esther finds her composure starting to unravel. She accepts her sister's long-standing invitiation to join her and her friend Sven on Gotland. It is there that Esther must face up to the realities of her life and find some equilibrium.
The book alternates between Esther's experiences in Australia in the wake of David's political career and her September idyll on Gotland, which has become the one place she can hold onto to help stave off her rising fears about the impact on their lives of David's success. Capp varies her style of writing as the scene changes, with the Gotland chapters coming across as moody and pastoral, whereas the Australian chapters strike the reader as gritty, urban and rushed.
This is not a book I expected to like, but it is very good and very well-written. I found myself wanting Esther to find peace but Capp manages to preserve empathy for all of her main characters, even David, who could so easily have been made into the villain of the piece. A very readable, absorbing and gratifying book
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