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Om The Performance
A SYDNEY MORNING HERALD AND GOOD HOUSEKEEPING 'MOST ANTICIPATED BOOK OF 2021' 'A tour de force... I can't recommend this too highly' Patrick Gale 'A potent meditation on the intensity of women's lives' Charlotte Wood, author of The Weekend 'I loved and admired The Performance... Unmissable' Emma Stonex, author of The Lamplighters 'Thomas writes these women with such wisdom and compassion, that by the end we are all transformed' Claire Fuller, author of Unsettled Ground 'An intimate, intensely brooding novel. Thomas gently questions the certainties of modern life that so many of us take for granted' Guinevere Glasfurd, author of The Year Without Summer 'Read it as soon as you possibly can' Emily Bitto, author of The Strays The false cold of the theatre makes it hard to imagine the heavy wind outside in the real world, the ash air pressing onto the city from the nearby hills where bushfires are taking hold. The house lights lower. The auditorium feels hopeful in the darkness. As bushfires rage outside the city, three women watch a performance of a Beckett play. Margot is a successful professor, preoccupied by her fraught relationship with her ailing husband. Ivy is a philanthropist with a troubled past, distracted by the snoring man beside her. Summer is a young theatre usher, anxious about the safety of her girlfriend in the fire zone. As the performance unfolds, so does each woman's story. By the time the curtain falls, they will all have a new understanding of the world beyond the stage.
Claire Thomas carries off a tour de force in The Performance, managing to pack a lifetime of human experience into remarkably little space. Like Beckett's ambiguous masterpiece, Happy Days, around which her narrative is tightly woven, she celebrates humanity and humour in the face of the intolerable. Even to people who live theatre makes fidget, I can't recommend this too highly. Restrained and adventurous at once, The Performance is a cool, potent meditation on the private intensity of women's lives. An enigmatic, elegant and assured novel that explores the power of art in revealing us to ourselves. I loved and admired The Performance. It's a work of great elegance and precision, a sharp yet achingly tender contemplation of women's hearts and minds. Thomas employs the stage to dazzling effect, calling into question the way we participate in our own lives and the lives of other people. Frequently funny, often profound, The Performance is an unmissable show. Firstly, I loved the whole idea of this book: that while the most extraordinary life happens onstage, three relatively ordinary women in the theatre's audience consider their most intimate fears and desires. And secondly, Thomas writes these women with such wisdom and compassion, that by the end we are all transformed. This extraordinary novel contains multitudes. Grounded in the inner lives of three women, it expands to encompass so much that is of fundamental importance to our times, and indeed to the human condition itself. Profound, funny, full of empathy and oh-so-smart, this is a work of art in the truest sense. Read it as soon as you possibly can. Witty, affecting, brilliantly wise and original: this is a wholly compelling examination of three women's lives triangulated through Beckett's Happy Days. Against Beckettian constraint, this is a "performance" of the gorgeous amplitude of everyday details and the densely lovely and scary texture of consciousness' The Performance is a story that assuredly balances the connections between the inner self, the intimacy of our immediate world and lives that are both beyond reach and yet determined by the paths we choose. Claire Thomas writes with a sure eye and knowing heart. Graceful, complex, intriguing. I read from start to finish almost without looking up, and suspect I will be carrying these characters with me for some time yet. A brilliant contribution to Australian fiction. Bravo, Claire Thomas.