Sunday, May 11, 2014

The Past Is Another Country

By Lois Battle

Megan Hanlon is the daughter of a Australian woman and an American soldier. Her parents met when he was in Australia in the 1940s. Theirs was a turbulent marriage and he seemed unable to settle down and support his wife and children. So Megan was sent to live with her aunt and uncle in Australia. Megan's mom was Irish Catholic and so Megan attended a Catholic girls' school.  She was a bit of a rebel, which didn't sit well with some of the nuns.
Her parents divorced and her mother remarried and Megan went back to the USA to live with her mother. Her father made sporadic appearances in their lives but more often than not he was nowhere to be found. Nonetheless, she loved him even as she hated the way he treated her and her brother and mother.
Fast forward about thirty years and Megan is now a movie director. She has come back to Australia for a film festival featuring a film she directed. She has also been nominated for an Academy Award for a documentary she made about runaway teens living on the streets in New York City. It's an important time in her life, a point at which she can achieve her dreams or crash and burn. But going back home to Australia causes a lot of buried issues to be dredged up and dealt with if she is to have some peace and understanding of herself, of her relationships with her ex-husband and an ex-lover and, of course, with her mother and absent father.

Pretty typical entry in the chick-lit genre, featuring three women in their early middle age,  coming to grips with their lives. Megan, the movie director, dealing with her unhappy childhood; Greta, the wife of a successful surgeon, having to face the truth about her marriage, and Joan, a nun, falling in love with a man for the first time in her life. Hearts are broken, relationships are ended, realities are faced and all three make hard choices. But even though typical in its subject matter, it is an engrossing and absorbing story, all the characters quite sympathetic despite their flaws and mistakes and well worth reading. I enjoyed it a lot.

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