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the impossibility of knowing
on June 28, 2001
This is a book that deserves two readings to fully appreciate it's worth. Winton presents us with the classic scenario of the unexpected dissolution of a relationship. This time, it is the man and not the woman abandoned, the man and not the woman who follows their heart rather than their head. Scully is a man we can't help but like when we first meet him. He is content with what he has, and gains enormous pleasure from love and comforting surroundings. He is in every sense the new age guy, waiting for his family to join him for their new life in Ireland. The romance of their nomadic lifestyle and the resurrection of the old cottage in Ireland lure us in, so that Jennifer's disappearance is a profound shock. The novel descends with the disconcerting plummet of an elevator, as everything Scully believes to be true unravels. In the process, Scully unravels before our eyes, and we question whether we really like this man at all. A warning though. If you don't like endings that provoke more mystery than they solve, this book will leave you frustrated. This is where the second reading comes in. When you read it the second time you appreciate that this is one man's journey towards acceptance that sometimes life doesn't provide solutions or endings. If we are to move forward, we have to accept that life and people will not always give us what we think we need, to make sense of ourselves and others. On the second reading you see that for Winton to have given the reader answers that life will not give Scully, would be to defeat the purpose of the entire novel. Like Scully, we are left to wonder why. And that, is as it should be.