Title: Love Objects
Author: Emily Maguire
Publisher: Allen & Unwin, 2021
Emily Maguire has written six novels including An Isolated Incident, which was shortlisted for the Stella Prize and Miles Franklin Award. Maguire has also written three non-fiction books and numerous widely published articles.
Love Objects is a novel written with deep compassion and respect and yet it displays a boldness and directness that bounces from the page. Nic is a forty-five-year-old single woman who can’t resist collecting and does so in earnest. Nic, who works in a discount department store, gathers newspapers, vases, coffee mugs, lamps, pots, and various unwanted paraphernalia including live cats. Her house is filled to brimming and finding space for daily tasks becomes difficult. But Nic feels the shame of her jam-packed house and refuses to let anyone in.
Nic has a niece, Lena, who she has always had a special relationship with. They meet for lunch every Sunday at a local restaurant. Lena and her brother Will are the children of Nic’s sister who relied heavily on Nic during the children’s childhood. Lena is a university student and Will is interstate living in a relationship with a woman with two young children, after a stint in jail.
New neighbours attempt to befriend Nic, and the local council pesters her for an inspection of her property, which she avoids. Nic keeps everyone at bay and allows no one to pass her front door. When she fails to arrive for Sunday lunch, Lena arrives at her aunt’s house and finds her unconscious from a fall amongst her cluttered possessions. Nic is hospitalised and the hospital social work department refuses to allow Nic to return home unless her circumstances change.
Unbeknown to her aunt, Lena has problems of her own. She’s involved with a rich and devious university student who videoed them having sex and then shared it on the internet. Will, separated from his partner, arrives back in town, without money and a drug problem. They both move into Nic’s house in an attempt to manage their own issues and de-clutter the house. The family bonds are stretched when Nic returns home from hospital and the three of them attempt to untangle the past and negotiate the future.
Emily Maguire weaves a strong and heartfelt story of loneliness, loyalty, family relationships and class. Love Objects is laced with sadness and humour and the characters are real, so real that the reader is left thinking about them well after the last page is turned. A great read.
Reviewed by: Heather Whitford Roche, June 2021
Ballarat Writers Inc Book Review Group