Landing on Solid Ground

Emma Donoghue delivers a story exploring how distance and difficulty don’t have to overwhelm a relationship

Emma Donoghue delivers a story exploring how distance and difficulty don’t have to overwhelm a relationship

Emma Donoghue’s Landing, unravels the story of the transatlantic relationship between 25-year-old Canadian Jude Turner and 39-year-old Dubliner Sile O’Shaughnessy. Dialogue sparkles between the characters; Sile’s Indian heritage and Irish accent are more noteworthy for the inhabitants of Jude’s backwater hometown than her place as the latter’s lover. It is unclear whether Donoghue prefers the grounded, history-buff nature of Jude or the classy, metropolitan sensibility of Sile—both personalities are engagingly detailed.

Donoghue returns to the thread of her earlier novels, Stir-Fry and Hood, which she admits were partially inspired by events in her own life. However, those often dwelt on pain and insecurity in lesbian relationships. Landing maintains a calm optimism through the details of distance. The love story itself is understated. This isn’t a harlequin romance. Neither Jude nor Sile is prone to overblown effusions of love; even Sile’s breakup with her partner of five years is due to dissatisfaction with their relationship, not as casualty of her correspondence with Jude. Furthermore, while homophobia does rear, none of the characters are closeted. Landing strikes a lovely balance between acknowledging the occasionally difficult aspects of being out without allowing them to overwhelm the strengths of our relationships and community.