Review of ‘Revolving Doors’ by Helen Macpherson
Rhiannon Sharp is a businesswoman at the top of her game, who has spent the better part of her adult life crossing the globe. Her current job places her back in Sydney and we meet her as she’s about to attend a school reunion. We get some flashbacks first to introduce the players and prepare us for what’s to come.
After losing both parents in a tragic accident at the tender age of 15, Rhiannon is taken out of her familiar surroundings to live with her aunt in Sydney. Being very much the tomboy, Rhiannon feels out of place at her new all-girls school, but manages to form a bond with another loner named Ginny. Before their BFF status can develop into anything else, Ginny tragically loses her life during Christmas break. Feeling utterly lost Rhiannon finds solace in the piano music of another student, Angela Drayton. They bond, have a fleeting moment, but before Rhiannon has a chance to figure out what’s what, Angela flees the scene like a veritable Cinderella, never to be seen again. Back in the present, the two women meet again after more than 20 years.
I will be honest and say I had a lot of problems reading this book. To quote Marie Condo, it did not spark any joy. The biggest problem was the tone and language. It was over-wrought and wooden, the dialogue oddly formal and stilted. It didn’t feel natural at any point.
Does a teenage girl talk like this to her BFF? “It’s not as if I have anyone to share anything with should you happen to tell me anyway. My studies keep me fairly absorbed, leaving little time for the trivialities of adolescent friendships.”
The amount of coming out angst dominated the whole book. Angela was a real pillock about it as well, reducing poor Rhiannon to ‘oh, she’s just an old school friend’ status at the drop of a hat one time too many. Rhiannon remains the perfect noble butch with oodles of self-control and the patience of a saint. Angela keeps seeing apes and bears at every corner. What will the neighbors think, what will my son think, my mother, my friends, my colleagues? So she ends up seeking validation with all these people throughout the book and it’s frankly exhausting. Rhiannon does the same on her end. And then, to add to all that angst we get a weirdly constructed subplot involving Rhiannon’s job and Angela’s beloved Conservatorium. It all makes for a very tedious muddle. This amount of gay angst between two women in their late 30s is not what I want to read in 2020. We’ve been there and it’s done to death and I don’t really want to read this anymore.
The other odd thing was Rhiannon carrying a torch for Ginny and Angela for half her life while nothing really profound happened between them to explain this. She never entered the girlfriend stage with either of them. There was no kissing, just a fleeting touch of a hand. I did not find this very believable.
So yeah, this author has some growing to do. I enjoyed the Australian setting, but sadly that was about all I liked about ‘Revolving Doors’.
f/f quite chaste first half, some fairly standard scenes later on
Themes: Sydney Australia, flashbacks, ‘Dìreach dhi’, the obligatory Are you Sure? the amounts of gay coming out angst is just ridiculous, the son and his soccer obsession, where is the fun?
ARC provided by the author in exchange for an honest review