‘You look the type to break your father’s heart.’
‘Yeah, but he broke mine first.’
When Rosie Gennaro first meets Jimmy Hailler, she has walked away from life in Sydney, leaving behind the place on Dalhousie that her father, Seb, painstakingly rebuilt for his family but never saw completed. Two years later, Rosie returns to the house and living there is Martha, whom Seb Gennaro married less than a year after the death of Rosie’s mother. Martha is struggling to fulfil Seb’s dream, while Rosie is coming to terms with new responsibilities. And so begins a stand-off between two women who refuse to move out of the home they both lay claim to.
As the battle lines are drawn, Jimmy Hailler re-enters Rosie’s life. Having always watched other families from the perimeters, he’s now grappling, heartbreakingly, with forming one of his own . . .
An unforgettable story about losing love and finding love; about the interconnectedness of lives and the true nature of belonging, from one of our most acclaimed writers.
Melina Marchetta has a distinct style of writing that when you read it, you just somehow know that it’s her. She can also evoke emotions effortlessly through her writing. Her stories also mostly always explore themes of family, particularly that of parents and children. There’s never only one primary plot line or one character arc that gets all the importance. There will be concurrent plot lines and characters, all connected with each other. The Place on Dalhousie is no different. We get to see the story from the perspective of three characters – the free spirited Jim, the rebellious Rosie and her step-mother Martha.
There is a lot going on with a lot of characters. Rosie is struggling with her parenthood and keeping her dreams on hold. She also has to share the house her father Seb built for her and her mother with her stepmother. But Martha and Rosie have a connection beyond this. Both their mothers lost their lives in the same week at the same cancer ward to breast cancer. Jim is struggling with his discovery of being a father all of a sudden, and laying roots when he never has before, having been abandoned by both his parents. Martha is struggling with her grief for her husband, her love for the house he left behind and the potential of something more with friend’s elder brother Ewan who himself is struggling with a father who has Alzheimer’s.
There are appearances from characters from Melina’s previous books Saving Francesca and Piper’s Son, which all featured characters from Jim’s group of friends. I have a soft spot for this band of misfits. It was great to revisit them. Their friendship plays a big part in this book also. One thing I love about Melina’s books is that although there a lot of characters, each of them have a unique equation with another. She’s never lazy with her world-building. Here also, that is the case. All the characters are respectfully dealt with. Every line gives you a peak into a dimension. No words are wasted. I kept wishing for this book to never end. But it did. And now I don’t know how long I have to wait for another book by the author.