Shelleyrae at Book'd Out's Reviews > Lucinda's Whirlwind

Lucinda's Whirlwind by Louise Limerick
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's review
Apr 16, 2012

liked it
bookshelves: arc-are, aussie-author, provided-by-publisher
Read from May 08 to 10, 2012 — I own a copy

Lucinda's Whirlwind is a character driven novel that explores the themes of change, self discovery, grief, relationships and family. This is the second novel for Australian author, Louise Limerick, who was named the SMH Best Young novelist after the publication of her debut, Dying For Cake (published in the US as Friends & Mothers).

Though told in the third person, most of the story unfolds from the alternate perspectives of Lucinda, Jayne and Brian, which is essential to understand the personal challenges each character faces when change is thrust upon them.
Change is hardest for Lucinda whose Asperger Syndrome like traits of uncompromising honesty and social awkwardness leave her overwhelmed when negotiating the needs of a family. Lucinda can't imagine why her sister, Jayne, usually reliable and thoughtful, would abandon her husband, Brian, and children to jet off to America with barely a word of warning and she is not happy about being left to care for eight year old Maddison, fourteen year old David and teenage couch surfer Wesley, when Brian is trapped by a grounded airline and cyclonic weather on a remote island of the coast of North Queensland. Lucinda is not fond of people in general, finding it difficult to deal with their complicated emotional needs and confusing social rules, and she is almost immediately overwhelmed by the demands of caring for others, including the dog, Wilma. She has no real choice though but to learn to manage Jayne's previous responsibilities (albeit with help from a housekeeper) from chaperoning the school 'walking bus' to ensuring Maddison doesn't gorge on chocolate chip cookies for breakfast. While Lucinda continues to yearn to escape back to the quiet haven of her small, neat flat and work at the museum, she slowly begins to form an awkward sort of attachment to the children, Wes and Keiron, a little boy with Downs Syndrome, who declares Lucinda his best friend. I liked that the author ensured that Lucinda kept her core traits, Lucinda may have learnt to bend a little but she is still blunt and aloof to the very end.

Jayne knows that getting on a plane and disappearing to America is not the responsible thing to do. She should have cancelled the tickets, bought by her mother before her death, but still in mourning she couldn't bring herself to and feeling lost, she hopes that taking the trip alone will help her find the answers to the questions that have been plaguing her since her mother died. Jayne's quest is one of self discovery, her mother's death has led to her wondering about the choices she has made and the direction her life is going. She is no longer satisfied with being endlessly amenable and passive and so forces change by taking off to America. I could understand Jayne's motivation for leaving, even in her abrupt manner, and liked her courage in stepping out o her comfort zone. I have to admit that I thought the bus tour didn't really add much to the story though, I thought there was more potential in Jayne spending time with Elise, instead of just her letters, rather than making the journey across the US.

Stranded in a remote aboriginal community on Locke Island in Northern Queensland, Brian can only fret uselessly, wondering why his usually dependable wife would desert the family. Brian has been quite comfortable with the status quo and though he recognised Jayne's grief for her mother he has to admit, with plenty of time to think, that he was more interested in things getting back to normal than what his wife needed from him. Brian learns that both in his personal life and work, he needs to listen more, and while not comfortable with the idea of change, he loves his wife and is willing to do what it takes to ensure her happiness.

Lucinda's Whirlwind is a thoughtful, introspective story told with quiet humor and honesty. I didn't find it a fast read, the lack of action in the plot slows the pace, but it was able to hold my interest with interesting characters and tender moments.
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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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Denise This book sounds intriguing, and one I'd like to add to my ever-growing list. Thanks for your great review, Shelleyrae!

Shelleyrae at Book'd Out Denise wrote: "This book sounds intriguing, and one I'd like to add to my ever-growing list. Thanks for your great review, Shelleyrae!"

Always happy to aid and abet Denise :)

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