The Performance

Claire Thomas. Riverhead, $26 (240p) ISBN 978-0-593-32916-0
Thomas’s incisive sophomore effort (after Fugitive Blue) follows three women of different generations and backgrounds as they separately attend a performance of Samuel Beckett’s Happy Days in Melbourne. While bushfires rage across Victoria, the women sit in a dark, air-conditioned theater, watching the play unfold as they consider their own existential fears and desires. Margot Pierce, a literature professor in her 70s, grapples with the prospect of retirement and her husband’s illness; Ivy Parker, a middle-aged philanthropist, contemplates the still-excruciating loss of her first child; and 22-year-old Summer, a drama student and usher at the theater, worries about her girlfriend, April, who must travel into the fire zone to help her parents. Though the women only cross paths briefly, during a witty section of the novel that unfolds at intermission, their respective anxieties about climate change, the confines of womanhood, and love and loss intersect magnificently throughout. Meanwhile, as the onstage drama progresses, the play’s protagonist becomes increasingly trapped by the desiccated earth, thus serving as a performative embodiment of the women’s own inexorable journeys through time. This richly rendered and perceptive meditation on motherhood, memory, and the challenges of living through frightful times will hold readers spellbound. (Mar.)
Reviewed on : 03/01/2021
Release date: 03/16/2021
Genre: Fiction
Book - 1 pages - 978-0-593-32918-4
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Audio book sample courtesy of Penguin Random House Audio
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