Book Club: The Landing

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Author: Susan Johnson
ISBN: 978-1-70611-393-3
RRP: $29.99

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.

the landing

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.

10 thoughts on “Book Club: The Landing

  1. Sounds like an unusual read but I do know that feeling of being in a place where privacy is not heard of. Looks like a few characters to learn about in the book. I haven’t heard of this author either.

  2. I had the opportunity to review The Landing by Susan Johnson (thanks to Beauty and Lace), and must say that sadly I didn’t enjoy it.
    I could not get into it at all, which is a shame as some of the characters, like Giselle, were good.
    But the story lacked fluidity, and went along at a snails pace, with the ending rather rushed. I don’t mean to be harsh with my review but basically, without giving too much away, I had read over a hundred pages and all that had happened was a BBQ was being planned by one of the main characters. I needed more from it, but it did not deliver.
    The characters for the most part just seemed out of place and I didn’t get a sense of connection between any of them.
    I don’t think I would recommend this book.

  3. First off thank you for selecting me to read The Landing I will honestly say I don’t know if I enjoyed reading this book, the first chapter started out ok but then the chapters just jumped from one character to another the book just didn’t gel for me and please I will give some credit to the author as I could never write a book myself I also found the ending rather strange like it was rushed, my neighbour also read the book and she only read 50 pages and gave the book back she couldn’t get into the book The Landing though a fictional town did remind me if where I grew up small towns are like that I am going to read some of the authors other books to see what I think of them

  4. Once I started reading the book I found it hard to put it down. I found that it seemed to go to the past to the present a few times. That was a bit confusing. The people obviously moved about a lot but that part was written out of sequence. The descriptions of how lived was lived in those eras was very interesting.
    I hope I get the opportunity of reading and writing reviews on more books.

  5. This is not a book that I would actually choose to read but on reading Michelle’s review I wanted to make my own opinion on the book. I think it is important to read all types of novels and express your views.

    From the first chapter I was totally warmed to Jonathon and could relate with him on his travels past Mount Tibrogargan because my own dad had explained exactly what the mountain represents as did Jonathons. To this day, when we head up to the Sunshine Coast it still brings smiles to me. For people that don’t know this mountain, it does look like a gorilla sitting down.

    I enjoyed reading the book and being able to visualise the surroundings of the places in Queensland and the places in Sydney also.

    I thought the book would follow Jonathon a bit more before introducing so many characters which I then became a bit confused with. I did have to keep looking back to see who was married to who and who was broken up with their husbands. Usually I would probably just stop reading but I continued on as I wanted to know more about Jonathon.

    We learn that living in a small community called The Landing that there are the usual busy bodies that have to know everything. I’ve lived in a small community so knows that feeling well.

    Apart from the small stories of Jonathon pining for the life he had with his wife who had left him for a lesbian relationship, we also do follow the story of Penny Collins who has a mum in her mid 80s and a daughter with 2 kids and is married to an older man. This book has lots of break-ups, secrets, relationships of family gone sour.

    There is one character that just pops up in a few chapters. A 7 year old girl called Giselle who we can see from the snippets of what we read has a hard life living with her mum. Not much is told of Giselle though and I would have liked to have learnt more of this character. We do learn at the end what happens with Giselle but for me, it was like a whole lot of chapters were missing on her existence.

    It wasn’t till the middle of the book that I was able to work out the characters and who was related to who. I did feel that the dinner of the barbecue chapters seemed to linger too long but it kept me entertained with reading to know more.

    I finished the book with a feeling of loss but some happiness for a character. I am confused by the sticker on the front of the book which says “Read it. Love it.”

    I’ve not heard of Susan Johnsons other books but I can see from the front pages that she has written others and been praised for her writing on them.

    Thank you to Beauty & Lace and Allen & Unwin for the opportunity of reading this book.

  6. The Landing is the first book I’ve read by Author Susan Johnson. Thank you to Beauty & Lace for the chance to read and review this book.
    I found the book a little hard going at times, very slow and a tad boring, where I really had to persevere to keep reading – I felt like skipping pages. I do like Susan’s writing style though, she is very descriptive and I had a motion picture running in my imagination the entire time. I love reading stories that are based in Australia, especially if they’re written about areas I have been, it makes it so much more relatable for me.
    The story’s main character is Jonathan Lott, a rich, still good-looking, mature, 55 year old guy, whose wife has just left him for a woman! He goes to a small community near Brisbane called The Landing where a myriad of different personalities inhabit. It is here where the story unfolds about women that come into Jonathan’s life – thing is that everyone in The Landing has problems of their own and carry baggage.
    The Author attempts sly humour throughout the story but it isn’t enough to make the experience a great one. A couple of the characters interested me but again, not enough to change my feelings on the book as a whole. I found the story jumpy and one time I put the book down and left it for a few days…when I picked it up again, I had to reread the last few pages just to know where I was again. Susan jumped from one character to the next and you never got to know any of them.
    I’m glad I read it but I wouldn’t do it again…

  7. This is the first time i have read a book i found a little hard to follow and read. There is a lot of layers, and it can be hard at times to follow what is happening. If you are looking for an easy read, i would give this book a miss….

    There are elements of sly humour through this book, yet it is really subtle and you wouldn’t really realise it.

    Unfortunately this book is way too jumping for my liking, i would suggest to read this book. A second read may not happen though!

  8. Thanks for giving me the chance to review this book and I literally just finished it. I have to say, I was left feeling a little confused. At first, I took 2 attempts at starting this book because I kept losing track of the characters, once I got into it though, I started to really enjoy it. There were so many characters to keep track of and I kept having to really try to remember who was who. I felt some of these characters were introduced for absolutely no reason. Like Celia, such depth was put into her introduction yet the story never really went near her. Sylv also a character that could of been introduced without such an in depth description for the small part she played. I was also wondering why the lakes perimeter and the fact a footpath would be built was even in the story. It never went anywhere from that fact itself. I also felt the ending was rushed when more information could of been put into the ending of this book instead of put into some of the useless characters. Don’t get me wrong, the book had a good storyline and it was nice to read of landmarks I’ve grown up near (Brissy girl). I just feel that this book has an unfinished feeling. I’ve never read anything by this author before and am curious as to how her other books flow.

  9. I am addicted to books lately but unfortunately I didn’t really enjoy this book. I felt it was over descriptive which bored me a little in parts and I didn’t connect with the characters emotionally. It didn’t take me away to their world like the previous book review did. I hope it wasn’t just me but The Landing didn’t make me want to keep reading as much as other books I have read. Thank you B & L for the opportunity though as I liked In The Quiet better.

  10. I have a review here by Koby…

    I found this book a little hard to get into, it was slow in the beginning and the descriptions of places etc. were a little over the top.
    I can appreciate that a scene needed to be set, but I just found it a little over descriptive.
    Living in QLD I found I could relate and knew a lot of the places mentioned, but I just found it couldn’t hold my attention.
    Having just read “Girl on a Train” I thought it would be a similar style.
    I felt there was just too much, to many characters, to much detail in the descriptions of places etc.
    The characters in the book have there ups and downs, but I didn’t feel I could connect to or “feel” anything for them.
    I didn’t really have a favourite character.

    Over all it was a pleasant read, I just don’t think it was my style of writing.

    Many thanks for the opportunity to read The Landing.

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