Love story with a difference full of culture and heritage

FICTION
Sixty seven days
Yvonne Weldon
Michael Joseph, $32.99

Describe Sixty seven days as a romance, this book doesn’t do it justice. Yvonne Weldon’s protagonist, Evie, is from Wiradjuri and lives the complex life of a young indigenous woman in Redfern in the last decade of the 20th century. Swamp standard romances of the easy genre are claustrophobic, always about two people negotiating a relationship chess game that gets them to bed and then into an endless airwave of probably happy-ending fucks.

Actually, genre romance is less like chess and more of a snap game — what that means Sixty seven days is a multidimensional chess game of couples, parents, grandparents, cousins, siblings, aunts, uncles, ancestors, totems and contemporary urban indigenous politics. Sliding through the story is a trauma that Evie secretly carries with her.

Yvonne Weldon's lovers are recognizable, relatable, and human.

Yvonne Weldon’s lovers are recognizable, relatable, and human.Recognition:Rhett Wyman

Despite being young, Evie brings more than a deeply observed personal perspective to the story; Her ancestral background is always there, ready to break into the narrative with flashes of inspiration that ground all of her experiences. Early in the story she meets James the lover and there is no clichéd conflict between them, just genuine rapture and a sense of rightness.

No demon lover here: just tenderness and a refreshing acknowledgment that Weldon has managed to write one of the most understudied phenomena in all of fiction: the edgy challenge of depicting human love and joy with intimacy and respect, candid trust and sensual delight, without clinical rudeness or exploitation – and neither smugly nor cynically. Weldon’s demons are never lovers: their lovers are recognizable, relatable, and human, and the demon here evokes disgust rather than fetishistic fascination.

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Recognition:

Weldon, an independent councilwoman for the City of Sydney, manages to surprise us as she navigates Evie through a complex relationship process. Their heritage and culture permeate the entire narrative of the story; Each of the two lovers brings the culture’s embedded weight and deep meaning to the relationship. Evie feels fear at every stage: will James be able to handle her life and family?

She is thoroughly entrenched in her Wiradjuri relationship network; Though her grandfather was stolen from his family as a young child, she can sense the strength of her heritage and culture that spans eons. She notes that when he was alive, “there was no room for dishonesty that lurked in the dark. If something…didn’t fit with the cultural and spiritual space of the home, it was dealt with.”

After his death she is not safe. She never names the man who harmed her, a confidant of her aunt’s: he was “the predator”, the “slimy bastard” who “crept further into our lives”. She tries to tell another aunt but is not helped; The man is too important to the community to be charged. Evie is left feeling soiled and damaged while the man continues to be hailed as a prominent citizen.

https://www.smh.com.au/culture/books/love-story-with-a-difference-bursts-with-culture-and-heritage-20220801-p5b69j.html?ref=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_source=rss_culture Love story with a difference full of culture and heritage

Jaclyn Diaz

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