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Review: Love in Mid Air by Kim Wright

love in mid air Review: Love in Mid Air by Kim Wright

What she means, Nancy says patiently, as patient as a saint, is that in novels women run off with their lovers. In real life, women stay.

red lipstick Review: Love in Mid Air by Kim Wright

I have to admit that Kim Wrights Love in Mid Air was a complete curve ball for me. Perhaps partly due to the fact that I won it through an Allen & Unwin Valentines Day competition, partly due to the wanton woman dressed in red on the front cover, and partly due to the fairly coy blurb, I was expecting this book to be a bittersweet romance about unhappy housewife being swept off her feet to begin a new life. In fact, it turns out that Love in Mid Air places far more emphasis on the bitter and on the sweet, and there is really very in the way of anything resembling love or romance at all.

Love in Mid Air is almost like Desperate Housewives without the kooky events and humour to take the edge off. Its uncompromising and uncomfortable as it follows the lives of a group of women, all of whom are unhappily married or who have recently been divorced. Watching the resignation with which they live their lives, or the odd mixture of curiosity and jealousy as they compare relationships, past and present, and make assessments about each others happiness. Theres a tragic coldness to the tentative friendship between this women, a sort of sense that theyre only friends because they need to know that theyre not the only ones entrenched in muddled uselessness of suburban wifery.

The book largely follows thirty-something wife Elyse as she struggles with how to respond after an electric meeting with a man on a plane. While she comes across as vivacious and daring during that first meeting, upon returning home she settles once more into the pained monotony of her marriage, which seems to be all about maintaining outward appearances and smiling politely to get through the day. Elyse and her husband eventually end up in marriage counselling, but the entire endeavour seems to be an attempt to pay lip service to their marriage: the couple communicate even less during, and because of, the counselling than they did previously.

Elyses affair is in no way a romantic affair, and instead is conducted with almost disconcerting pragmatism. She manages the affair as a catalyst to leave her husband, even though she knows that her lover has no intention of leaving his wife. The affair is used as a sort of proof that her marriage is broken, but that without the framework of the marriage, she is still able to exist as a discrete person.

Love in Mid Air is a fascinating, if not entirely enjoyable, read. Wright does an admirable job of getting inside her characters heads and making us feel for them and their seemingly hopeless resignation. I did feel that the book stumbled a little as Wright occasionally attempts to say too much; this is particularly evident at the end of each chapter, 'where there is always some sort of double entendre, and which can come across as a bit forced and knowing. I did struggle a bit with the character of Elyse, finding it difficult to empathise with her at times due to the fact that she is always extremely guarded and quiet, but expects those around her to be able to understand and identify all of the small things that she refuses to utter aloud.

 Review: Love in Mid Air by Kim Wright

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