Book Review: The Anniversary by Stephanie Bishop 

FIFTY+SA Arts Reviewer, Dave Bradley, reviews the dark and compulsive novel, The Anniversary, from award-winning Stephanie Bishop.

WORDS: Dave Bradley, Arts Reviewer

Bishop’s ambitious fourth novel is a study of grief, pain and loss, as well as guilt, trauma, the confines of marriage, the relationship between art and commerce, issues of age and gender within the realms of academia… and so much more on top. And therefore, unsurprisingly, it can feel a tiny bit strained at times.

To celebrate their forthcoming anniversary, longtime marrieds JB Blackwood and Patrick are enjoying a cruise, and she hopes that, when they finally reach Japan, she’ll tell him about the literary prize she’s won for her latest novel. Her former lecturer, Patrick is a filmmaker and general cult figure who’s almost two decades older than her, and he’s becoming grumpy and erratic, even as she blossoms.

When a drunk Patrick falls overboard and drowns somewhere in Russian waters, Bishop examines JB’s extreme psychological state in the terrible aftermath, as her exhausted mind confusedly ponders how they got together, how he inspired and encouraged her, and how much she loved him. Or, at least, she thought she did.

However, while it’s hard not to sympathise with JB here, the plot can at times feel somewhat overwrought, as we build, and build, and build, and build to something that, perhaps, might not actually be there. 

Just like life.

Hachette Australia, RRP $32.99

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