While I was reading this compelling but occasionally problematic novel, I started thinking about Oscar Wilde. Pretentious? Moi? The thing is, when I’m torn between opposing views of the same thing, I tend to think of Wilde’s The Ballad of Reading Gaol … ‘two men looked out from prison bars, one saw mud, the other stars’. So I found myself in two minds about this book, mainly because, two thirds of the way through, I began to lose sympathy for the main character, Esther Chatwin, wife of a contemporary Australian prime minister (no one we know), a woman none too keen on her role.