Robert was surprised when he saw the atom blast on film, the mushroom cloud billowing up to the sky, so peaceful and final-looking. So natural-seeming that this was what would end it. …
…Home was her, Catherine, in her blue cotton dress, dancing to the radio in the living room, the furniture pushed back against the walls to give her space. Him sitting on one of the chairs against the wall, entranced, not just by the glimpses of thigh and garter belt, her skirt in a perpetual flying ruffle, but her energy, her hips and hands and every part of her so alive.
It’s February 1946, and Robert Booker is just home from the war. Home is a pretty weatherboard house in Sydney, where his wife, Catherine, is waiting. They haven’t seen each for three years, yet they are separated by so much more than time.
Robert is haunted by the horrors of what he has seen and done, fighting in the humid jungles of New Guinea, and Catherine is carrying the guilt of her affair with a charismatic US Marine – and other secrets too painful to confront. Her heart divided between two men, she finds herself longing for all she has lost. With so much that’s changed between them, can Catherine and Robert find their way back to each other again?
Through intimately exploring the experience of one couple, and one war, Laura Bloom powerfully humanises the damage wrought by all wars to people everywhere.
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I really loved this book - while reading it, I had the same feeling as when I read one of my other favourite books, For Love Alone by Christina Stead. Both books feature strong and intriguing female characters, trying to carve out a life in 1930s/40s Sydney, which is so brilliantly brought to life, and so many of their struggles seem so contemporary. Stead said: ''I'm a psychological writer, and my drama is the drama of the person". I felt this with In The Mood, with its real and compelling characters, their weaknesses and mistakes not skipped over, but deeply explored, to reveal the true "drama of the person".