Amy's Rest - SR Silcox
This is a story about rebuilding. The actual, literal rebuilding of a house—a cottage—in the hinterland/Outback of Queensland, Australia. But this story is much more than that. It is about the rebuilding of lives, the rebuilding of people, and the rebuilding of hearts.
The blurb of ‘Amy’s Rest’ asks readers to wonder if renovating a run-down cottage can mend a broken heart? It’s literal and, obviously, metaphorical.
Georgia Ballantyne is anxious to move on after an exhausting two-year-long battle over her former partner’s estate. Once she completes the renovations on the quaint country cottage, she’ll finally be free to find her way forward. If only she could stop being distracted by her builder, Zoe. What’s supposed to be a simple business transaction could lead to an unexpected outcome for the broken-hearted homeowner, the pedantic builder, and the cottage that brought them together.
Amy, of the title, is not a character in this book. She is a presence. She is both a catalyst and an impediment. She was Georgia’s longterm partner, and after Amy’s death, Georgia has spent two years being busy. Busy in a job she doesn’t enjoy anymore. Busy in a city she’s not enamoured with anymore. She’s been busy not living her life. It’s amazing how busy grief is.
Georgia arrives in Elizabeth Creek to oversee the rebuilding of the cottage that Amy bought to start their country life. Georgia arrives with her city-ness busy-ness, and finds the country-calm quite odd.
The interesting part of grief, that many people don’t discover until they’re in it, is how still it can be. There are large moments of silence in grief. Being in the country is good for moments of silence, and when you’re sitting in silence, your grief can breathe. And settle. And think. And change.
The quick fires of Zoe, and the constant sizzling embers of energy and need for closure from Georgia are not compatible at first. Pushing them together is Ren, the abrasive, blunt city best friend, who insists Georgia ‘get over’ her partner’s death. Ren’s callous suggestion probably allows Georgia to see Zoe for the real person that she is, rather than the fling Ren perceives her to be. Like a sort of reverse psychology.
The rebuild of the cottage runs alongside the building of their relationship plot. It’s quite lovely how the details of the materials used are the details of the budding relationship.
In the country, the background, the distance, the details are lost in a shimmery haze. In Australia, it’s a blue haze, because of the eucalyptus trees. In ‘Amy’s Rest’, many details are metaphorically hidden in a haze. Also, in country Australia, the sky is enormous. The land is so vast. The roads are so wide, so long, with edges that blur into the scrub at the side, that it’s much easier to focus on the details which is are up close. The characters of Frank, Rick, the finances that magic up from somewhere to help Zoe move on, so many details are hinted at, but you’d have to squint to see them, just like you do in the bush. The far away holds the close up. And that’s all that matters. Zoe, Georgia, the cottage, Elizabeth Creek; they are the close-up.
So, in ‘Amy’s Rest’, the cottage rebuilds Georgia’s life, and gives Zoe’s static life a new lease, like the reclaimed wood used in the heart of the house.
Is ‘Amy’s Rest’ literally where Amy will rest? No, but it’s where Georgia can, and that means Amy’s love will as well. In the country, you can be silent. In the silence, you can rebuild. Like Zoe and Georgia.