Fiction: The Weight of Love
Hilary Fannin's debut novel The Weight of Love opens in London in the mid-1990s, throwing us immediately into the fulcrum of this novel, a scene where the three characters, Robin, Joseph and Ruth, first come together.
From the outset, it seems like their destinies, inextricably linked, are also unchangeably set. In their beginning was their end. In fact, this opening scene is not the beginning of this story. Fannin, an Irish Times columnist, proceeds, with the skill of a surgeon, to peel back layer upon layer, while simultaneously adding further layers, through a timeline that jumps back to the past, then to more recent times.
A story that opened with such seemingly definitive character tropes - penniless, tortured but attractive artist Joseph; reliable, lovelorn Robin; and beautiful, idealistic and slightly lost Ruth - reveals itself in multiple surprising directions.
In 1995, we see the beginning of a love triangle. In 2018, Robin and Ruth are unhappily married; Joseph's fate is a mystery. Memories appear throughout, pulling us down various other timelines.
Fannin's skill in creating such a structure speaks to her experience as a playwright. None of this is confusing; rather it is like watching a light slowly illuminating the full narrative. While the romantic love between the three main characters is the main focus, the author also examines another kind of love which brings its own kind of burdensome weight: a mother's love. Fathers pass through, or are interchangeable; mothers are both indispensable and inescapable.
Joseph is tortured by the memory of his, Robin feels deep shame around his. Ruth, a mother herself, seems to finally find a sense of clarity and purpose in her love for her child. There's an almost dreamlike quality to this book, so beautifully does Fannin create the mood.
From their first appearance, so deftly is each character drawn that the outcome seems almost inevitable. In fact, this novel is still revealing new unexpected depths until the final page.
Sunday Indo Living