The Near Miss by Fran Cusworth

Fran Cusworth’s domestic-drama, The Near Miss, tells the story of three strangers, brought together by an ‘almost’ accident (hence the title).

Grace is an exhausted mother, who is plagued by a ‘…smorgasbord of worries’, from money, work, and her temperamental daughter to her husband who spends more time inventing things than focused on his job.

Eddy is a risk analyst – a career that spills over into his private life and impacts almost every decision he makes.

He had chosen many things in life according to his professional principles of risk reduction – many things except his girlfriend, he reflected, possibly the most important life choice of all. Love had selected his girlfriend for him, and Love, judging by her choice, had only scorn for mitigating arm probability or severity of failure categories.

Melody has left her hippie life at a commune and moved to Melbourne with her four-year-old son, hoping for a stable environment and a new start.

I enjoyed the distinctly Melbourne feel to the story. The setting was suburban, believable and fitting for the each of the characters. I also liked Cusworth’s portrayal of the female relationships – she was spot on with the kinder mums’ coffee mornings and the wariness that goes with the territory.

‘So, are you guys good friends now, too?’ Nina was undoubtedly asking permission to talk in a negative way about the new mother, but just feeling her way.

Cusworth uses various plot points to explore the theme of ‘judgement’ – from the gossipy morning teas and ‘good deeds’ to ‘viewer polls’ on television, she demonstrates that judging someone is not always as simple as it might seem.

What didn’t work for me was the busy plot – there was a bit too much going on, ultimately making the story implausible and the timeline uneven. I guess I wanted more about what the characters were thinking rather than what they were doing.

2.5/5 Not quite a hit but certainly not a miss.

All the trouble starts with ice cream in this story. My pick for summer is Jamie Oliver’s rhubarb sorbet.

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