‘Weekend’ by Shirley Hazzard

Weekend by Shirley Hazzard, 1962

The magic trick:

A story built on observing quiet human interactions

Lillian is spending the weekend visiting her brother and sister-in-law at their new house in the country.

Nothing dramatic happens.

Nothing in particular at all happens.

The story is really only interested in the dynamic between the three people here.

So, if you resist such “quiet” literature, I’d suggest you run fast and far in the opposite direction. But if subtle studies in human interaction are your thing, stick around and enjoy.

And that’s quite a trick on Hazzard’s part.

The selection:

“I adore you,” Ben said, without opening his eyes, “but why are you up so early?”

Julie, at the mirror, uttered a strangled sound. She took a bobby pin from between her teeth and fastened up the last, escaping lock of hair. “I have to take care of Simon until the girl arrives. And think about lunch. … And then, there’s Lillian.”

“What about her?” Ben stretched out into the depression left by Julie’s body in the other half of the bed. His eyes, now open, were surprisingly alert. “Come and talk to me.”

She came and sat beside him, reaching her arm across his body to rest her hand on the bed. “I just mean I have to think of her – make sure she’s not cold or anything.”

“Difficult to see how she can be anything else, when we’ve got both the radiators.”

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