Ghost Wife by Michelle Dicinoski. A review by John Cook.

Ghost Wife

Ghost Wife by Michelle Dicinoski. 2013

Timely, charming. insightful. This book spends a lot of time and energy exploring the need for gay marriage through examining the progress of her own relationship and making a very good case rationally and emotionally.

The book is charming in the way readers are taken into a brief but telling overview of Michelle’s life, her family and that of her American partner (sorry, wife). The writing is simple, clear and easy to absorb. I particularly enjoyed the moments of often wry but telling humour that pepper the work. Two examples:

For her tenth birthday Michelle wants books, smurf figurines or roller-skates …

Instead Thelma (grandmother) had given me towels. Bath towels. A matching set of two.

They’re for your glory box,” Thelma said, pleased with herself.

My what?”

Your glory box.”

I gave her a blank look.

Vicki, don’t you tell this child anything?”

A glory box,” Mum said to me, “is a collection of house-hold things, like towels and saucepans and crockery. Things that you need when you get married.”

That didn’t sound like marriage – it sounded like chores.’

Later, Michelle is explaining to her mother how she will be married in Canada and there will be two receptions in the US and a final one in Brisbane.

Will you come?”

Oh, I don’t know,” she said. ”I’ll have to see. Just don’t tell your father about it.”

So this was how it was going to be.

Never mind then, I won’t bother telling him. I just thought I should invite you, because it would be nice if my family was there to celebrate my wedding, you know? How could Dad come to the reception if he doesn’t even know what we’re celebrating?”

But Mum had an idea,

You could tell him it’s a birthday party.”

There is so much depth of understanding in both those examples. I must also confess that the author attracted my attention in three other areas – she is one-eighth Japanese, I am one-eighth Chinese and we both had to find this out for ourselves – she had an historic mixed Catholic-Protestant relationship in her family that failed while my brother’s similar marriage flourished – lastly one of my very closest friends (21 years) comes from (escaped) Rockhampton (as did Michelle) and still feels the tremors of homophobia when visiting for family gatherings.

This is not a long book and I confess that its easy readability made its easy to devour in a couple of sessions. This is something of a minor weakness as the test merits careful reading and savouring to be fully appreciated


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