Trip of a Lifetime by Liz Byrski

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Courtesy Pan Macmillan
When a female politician is
shot as she leaves her workplace, her life and the lives of the people closest
to her are blown apart.
Heather Delaney survives the
shooting but it is the repercussions of the crime that is the real story behind
Liz Byrski’s fourth novel Trip of a
Lifetime.
Trip of a Lifetime
The tension builds when the crime
is not solved. Heather struggles to return to work not knowing if she is safe
and why she was targeted. Her ability to hold it together fails on many
occasions.  Her political assistant
Shaun, who was present at the shooting, picks up the pieces for her while his
personal life is crumbling. Shaun is struggling with his relationship to a
woman who has a drug problem and who has hassled her way into his life,
constantly hinting at a marriage he has no interest in.
Heather’s brother Adam and
his wife Jill are older parents whose struggle to come to terms with the
shooting runs parallel to the stress of trying to balance family life with young
children, work and job satisfaction and a successful marriage.  The fact that the safety net they have built
around their lives has been penetrated is both terrifying and real.
The oldest couple in the
novel, Barbara and George, bring a warmth that the other characters lack.  Barbara, Heather and Adam’s aunt, is in her seventies,
has never married but is in a wonderful loving relationship with her neighbour
George. Together they have plans for a huge adventure and seem to cope best
with the crime.  They are comfortable in
their own skin and able to deal with what life throws their way.
Themes in Trip
of a Lifetime
One of the main themes
running through the novel is the keeping of secrets: how we carry secrets
through our lives to either protect ourselves or others and how this can
determine the type of person we are. 
Some secrets are big, some are small and some grow larger with each year
that they are buried.
The novel also explores the
bonds that people have, in this case Heather and Adam, when they share a deep
secret.  This bond excludes Jill, who
often feels she is the third person in the partnership.
Other themes Byrski explores
include the set roles that men and women play and what happens when these are
reversed, the place of religion in childhood, self-discovery and fulfilment,
and the tolerance of relationships in the elderly.
Women in Byrski’s Novels
Byrski’s main protagonists
are often women in their fifties or older who are doing interesting things with
their lives.  Her novels strike a cord
with women of all ages and her works are very popular amongst book clubs as
they throw up a host of questions that are ripe for debate. 
In Trip of a Lifetime, the main character Heather is a single woman
who has never been married but has had men in her life.  She is stubborn, unhappy with her size, good
at her job and following the shooting, craves the support of a partner.  She is not necessarily a likeable character
but as the novel progresses we get a better understanding of how a life-long
secret has shaped her.
The return of her ex-boyfriend
Ellis to offer her comfort and love when she most needs support will make the
reader squirm.  As an independent woman
use to being on her own, change is a challenge and Heather digs deep to see her
way to the end of her journey.
Trip of a Lifetime is an enjoyable read with characters that are both likeable and realistic. 
About Liz Byrski
Born in London and raised in
Sussex, Liz Byrski moved to Australia in 1981 and currently resides in Perth,
Western Australia.  She is the author of
eleven works of non-fiction and five novels and has over 40 years experience in
the media. 
Previous novels include: Gang of Four; Food, Sex and Money and Belly Dancing for Beginners.  Her latest novel is entitled Bad Behaviour.
Trip of a Lifetime (Pan Macmillan Australia Pty Limited, 2008, ISBN 978-1-4050-3827-0, 343
pages.)

My rating: ★★★★

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