Author: Susan Johnson
The Landing is the latest release for Susan Johnson and the first of hers I have read. It is set in a small lakeside town in Queensland, The Landing, where our hero has a holiday home.
Jonathan Lott is one of our leads, he is in his mid-fifties and about to become a free man after decades of marriage. He is still pining for his wife after two years of separation and still referring to her as his wife even though she ran off and left him for another woman.
I thought that the book was going to be his story. He is not a man built for the single life, he misses being married and he is not sure he has it in him to start again.
This book is not entirely his story, the book focuses on a handful of residents of The Landing and tells all of their stories.
I found The Landing to be disjointed, it wasn’t very cohesive and their didn’t seem to be anything more than location connecting most of the characters. It was more a collection of simultaneous shorts than a novel, in my opinion.
Some of the characters we followed had connections to each other but only a superficial acquaintance with Jonathan.
The Landing is a small community so everyone knows everything and privacy is a little hard to come by. I am pretty sure all the townsfolk get a mention but we do have a few different threads to follow.
All of the characters are very different and their stories are told in alternating chapters. There is Penny Collins, her mother Marie, her daughter Scarlett, Dr Gordie Wallace, his daughter Anna and then there’s Giselle.
I found it hard to connect with any of the characters, possibly because their stories were so disjointed and I found them lacking real depth. Giselle was the character who intrigued me the most. She is a seven year old girl living with her mother but most often seen by herself. I found myself wondering about her, where she came from and why she popped up so often in the story.
The characters range from quite young with Scarlett who is barely out of her teens to Marie who is in her mid-eighties, their life spans and experiences so different.
Love, marriage and a sense of self are resounding themes in The Landing and Johnson explores them as experienced by each character.
The ending felt quite rushed, there was a lot of build up and the unfolding of the characters lives and then it was all tied up neatly with a bow in one short chapter.
I feel like Giselle could have been explored in a lot more depth, how she came to be in The Landing and what life was like for her but also how things came to be resolved for her in more than a five line concluding paragraph.
The journeys of these characters are ones that most people are going to relate to on some level which makes them easy to empathise with.
The Landing is quite insightful in places as the characters start to look inside themselves for the answers that they haven’t been ready to find, they learn a little more about themselves and gain the knowledge to move forwards which is always a good thing. I would have liked their endings explored in a little more depth to really feel like I’d gotten closure.
This is a book that I enjoyed, though not as much as I would have liked, and there is still a part of me asking what comes next. Multiple points of view and alternating chapters can be a very powerful storytelling tool but I’m not sure that it really worked for me in this one.
10 of our lucky readers are going to be reading The Landing as well so please be aware there may be spoilers in the comments below.
The Landing is book #45 for the Australian Women Writer’s Challenge 2015.
Susan Johnson can be found on Twitter.