Review | Friday 26 October 2012
Life is a funny thing. The people we meet, the connections we make and then the connections we lose.
I have always loved Catherine Deveny’s writing style and having a whole book of it makes me feel spoilt. The Happiness Show is set alternatively between Melbourne and London, and our two main characters circle around each other in both memory and present day.
Lizzie and Tom met while travelling on the Trans-Siberian Railway, fell in love and spent five glorious weeks together in the UK. After life gets in the way and Lizzie ends up back in Sunshine while Tom becomes a lawyer, they both let their connection go and move on with their lives. Fifteen years later, chance intervenes again. They meet and, although both are happily married with children, they cannot stop thinking about each other.
Although I would normally consider this premise somewhat sleazy, there’s a humour and a strange down-to-earth quality to the narrative that makes this a highly enjoyable book. Told in a stream-of-consciousness style, with memory interrupting present day, the perspectives circle, condense and twirl back around. There are lots of characters that are interesting in this book, from the spouses and children to the cast of friends and family.
Never taking itself too seriously, The Happiness Show sees Deveny in fine form.