For resolutely single, career-driven, childless Lucinda, being asked to pick up her niece from school is the start of a true whirlwind, in Louise Limerick’s latest novel, Lucinda’s Whirlwind. Why has Lucinda been asked to collect her niece Madison? Because Lucinda’s sister and Madison’s mother, Jayne, is nowhere to be found and Brian, Madison’s father and Jayne’s husband, is stuck on a remote island while visiting an Aboriginal community to talk about government housing. So Lucinda must drop her duties as a museum curator and put her life on hold to first pick up Madison, then – realising she is alone in this – she has to manage the entire household, consisting of Madison, her older brother David, their ridiculous dachshund Wilma, and couch-surfing local teenager Wesley – while Brian languishes on some island somewhere and Jayne seems to be off travelling in America.
Lucinda cannot understand the mess that Jayne’s life seems to be. First of all there is this America trip – booked and organised for Jayne and Lucinda to share with their mother. When she died, Lucinda immediately cancelled her, and her mother’s tickets, but Jayne didn’t ever quite get around to it. In fact from Jayne’s perspective, her whole life seems to have fallen apart since her mother’s death. She is unable to communicate with her husband, her children, or even her own sister. So when the trip date rolls around, she packs a bag and jumps on the plane – not sure yet of where she might end up but knowing she has to take this trip.
For the trip represents her own mother’s regrets. A trip that she originally had booked with her best friend Elise, but when her husband (Jayne and Lucinda’s father) refused to let her leave, she had always regretted not going along. And when Elise didn’t return from America, Jayne’s mother saw this as a reflection on her own feelings of being trapped in her marriage and family. So for Jayne, who herself is questioning her connections to family, this trip might be a way of finding answers.
This book is a gentle journey for Jayne and Lucinda both. Jayne does eventually find her answers and Lucinda realises that she too has the same problems as Jayne, but was never able to see them through her own judgmental eyes. Both sisters experience a bit of a whirlwind, but really when the dust settles it seems there is nothing so strong as family.
Available now: Pan Macmillian RRP$24.99