A mother's greatest fear… A wife's worst nightmare… What would you do?
When two technology-related disasters hit within days of each other, Paula knows her comfortable suburban life has been irrevocably blown apart. One involves the public shaming of her teenage daughter, the other is a discovery about her husband that shocks her to the core. With her world unravelling around her, Paula does the only thing that makes any sense to her – she runs away from it all…
Paula pulls her children out of school and takes off on a trip across Australia with her elderly father and his caravan. The only rule – no technology! No phones, no Facebook, no Instagram, no tablets, games or computers. It's time to get back to basics and learn how to be a family again.
It all sounds so simple – and for a while, it is. But along the way Paula will meet new, exciting complications, and realise that running away is only a temporary solution. The past has to be faced before the future can begin…
A thrilling, tender and hugely entertaining story of loss, love and discovery from the bestselling author of The Mother's Group, Wife On The Run is a remarkable novel about families, the joys and challenges of long-term monogamous relationships and the complexities of parenting in the age of social media. Centred on a middle-class family in crisis, Wife On The Run explores a cluster of contemporary issues in Australian life told through 2 view points, both a husband and wife - and Fiona writes from a position of experience, having been married now for almost a decade and with three children under seven.
Born in Melbourne and educated in Sydney, Fiona Higgins is now based in Bali with her husband and three children. She has worked in the philanthropic sector over the past 15 years, and is currently Director of Grantmaking and Evaluation at Australian Philanthropic Services. Fiona's memoir, Love in the Age of Drought (2009), was followed by the success of her novel The Mothers Group (2012). Wife On The Run is her second novel.
Wife On The Run
Allen and Unwin
Author: Fiona Higgins
Question: What inspired the story of Wife On The Run?
Fiona Higgins: My fiction is always inspired by things that preoccupy me. I have three young children and I was interested in exploring the joys and challenges of parenting in a digital age. I'm also fascinated by intimate relationships and the more I see, the more I realise that there's always so much going on underneath the surface of everyone's lives.
So in -Wife on the Run', the central couple in the novel (Paula and Hamish) have been married for 17 years and they're in a comfortable suburban groove of money-making, mortgages and family routines – where so many contemporary couples find themselves, I suppose. And yet for all of that stability and comfort, they're grappling with how to sustain passion and respect in their relationship, how to balance their needs as an individual with those of the family unit… and it's not just their teenage children who are getting into trouble on the internet!
Question: Was it difficult to write the book from two different perspectives?
Fiona Higgins: That was something that came quite easily to me, and I enjoyed it. It was the character of Hamish (Paula's husband) who began -talking' to me first – he's a middle-aged man who's working so hard to be the best father and husband he can be, while at the same time feeling rather misunderstood and under-valued by his wife and family. And then there's Paula – a woman striving to be a good wife and mother, yet feeling a tad resentful and frustrated about family life. The couple are feeling similarly, ironically, but for very different reasons. The two perspectives are combined in chapters that provide alternating views, hopefully building a picture of family life that is complex and real.
Question: Can you talk about the research you did regarding -parenting in the age of social media'?
Fiona Higgins: I didn't need to do a huge amount of detailed research; you don't have to look very far to see how much of an issue this is for parents. Whether it's media coverage of cyber-bullying and Facebook trolling, or daily tensions in the home about permissible screen time for kids, social media is certainly adding to the complexity of parenting these days. But I did spend some time investigating internet chat rooms and sex forums, which was quite an eye-opener!
Question: There are several issues raised in this book. Was this deliberate or did the story evolve this way?
Fiona Higgins: The story evolved this way. I didn't set out to write an -issues' book, but in the course of the narrative – as the family takes time out from technology and heads off around Australia in a caravan – a number of issues just emerged organically. Like the issue of judgement - characters spend quite a bit of time in this novel misreading reality and misjudging other people! But overall, I hope -Wife on the Run' is an entertaining and recognisable story about contemporary family life.
Interview by Brooke Hunter