‘What kind of game is the sea?’ asks the speaker of Tracy K. Smith’s poem ‘Minister of Saudade’. ‘Lap and drag’, comes the response, ‘Crag and gleam / That continual work of wave / And tide’. It is not until the end of The Weekend that the sea’s majestic game is brought into focus, and then the natural world rises, a riposte, to eclipse human trivia.
Before this, Charlotte Wood’s novel is emphatically domestic, the sea a backdrop to the tight dynamics of decades-long friendship, its presence only occasionally noticed as it ‘[slaps] against the seawall in lazy, rhythmic sloshes’. This, too, is a kind of riposte, since ‘domestic’ fiction, especially by women writers, has long been disparaged.