A successful first novel about women’s friendship, a travel story and psychological self-analysis
Pauline Slot’s first novel is about friendship between women, about girlfriends who have known each other for decades, who have been on holiday together and dine together every week. But how well do you actually know each other after all this time? Is it possible to really fathom out the other person?
This question is implicit in the plot of this fluidly-written novel, in which the electric tension is maintained from the first page to the last. In Zuiderkruis the narrator, Emma, attempts to uncover the mystery of her friend Floor’s death. Floor, an art history graduate with artistic talent, was drowned at the end of a long journey through Australia, New Zealand and Fiji. Emma feels partly responsible for her death because she had financed her trip by selling a painting Emma had once given her. Moreover, she is tormented by the thought that Floor, unhappy at the death of her lover, may have committed suicide. Two years later Emma decides to follow in Floor’s footsteps. Step by step, day by day, she makes the same journey, using letters and diary entries as her guide.
In flashbacks we are given an intriguing picture of Floor – loved by many women, passionate, headstrong, independent, and essentially unhappy in her work as a coordinator at the university where ‘her mind has become a desert’. Emma’s development from an envious, docile, shadow of Floor into a questioning, enterprising individual, is fascinating. During her journey she not only discovers many unexpected things about her friend’s hidden inner-self, but just as much about herself. This makes Zuiderkruis a splendid pyschological travel story and an infectious debut.