Passing Remarks

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Ballantine Pub., 1996 - Fiction - 215 pages
2 Reviews
Two things happened to Rosemary that early summer;
she won $30,000 playing Keno at the Hakoah Club and
she fell in love with a woman much younger than herself.
Thus, laden with luck, she entered her fifty-first year. . . .

When middle-aged, academic Rosemary meets twenty-seven-year-old Billie--a woman with a tough bike and an even tougher attitude--she goes weak at the knees. Yet when Billie speeds off on a soul-searching bender through the Australian outback, Rosemary is left to ponder love and longevity, and weather a few adventures of her own.
Cooped up for the summer with the eccentric Daphne--who is busy transforming her body into a tattooed biography of her mad mother's life--Rosemary unwittingly winds up with a leading role in a lesbian porn flick, loses her car to a shears-wielding murderer, and still finds time to compost her garden and miss Billie to no end. Yet as each woman's path twists through a hilarious comedy of manners and mishaps, one fact remains: relationships lie in the sometimes capable--sometimes careless--hands of coincidence.

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Passing remarks

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Set in Australia, this novel--partly a love story but mostly a thrill-seeking, quixotic adventure tale--is filled with a cast of eccentric, shallow, drifting characters who look for an anchor, a ... Read full review

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Passing Remarks is the 4th novel by Scots-born author Helen Hodgman. An Associate Professor of Early Childhood Studies, Rosemary is a lesbian lottery winner in her fifties who is beginning to feel insecure with her latest lover, confident, young Harley-riding Billie. Billie rides off up north to see her hippy mother Heather and then her wheelchair-bound friend, Lorraine who runs a resort for the gay and the dying. Rosemary encounters a school friend with a dying mother and eventually, with her cat Kristeva, heads to the Blue Mountains to witness friends committing to each other, a colleague transforming her body into art, has her car stolen by a secateur-wielding murderer and becomes the unwitting star of a movie. Hodgman uses an economy of words to convey the feel of 90’s Sydney: her descriptions are vivid and powerful. She touches on a myriad of subjects: femocrats, shoulder pads, gender inequality, elderly parents, roses, penises, boys, underwear and female genital mutilation. There is some marvellous prose: “It worries her to see her friend getting so set in his ways and closed to everything new. Is it to do with aging, this intellectual hardening of the arteries, and will it happen to her….” And “Why should Rosemary spend what remains of her life…watching these people trampling through the well-worn thickets of déjà vu to reach a forest of foregone conclusions?” This novel is peopled with odd, eccentric characters who are, nonetheless, easily recognisable from everyday life. Rosemary’s inner monologue is dry and witty; plot is filled with believable coincidences; there is plenty of humour, a fair bit of angst and irony in liberal doses. Enjoyable. 

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About the author (1996)

Hodgman was born in Scotland and emigrated to Tasmania. She returned to London to live for 10 years and worked at a variety of jobs to support her writing career.

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