The Anniversary by Stephanie Bishop

Author, J B Blackwood, learns that she has won a major literary prize but she can’t tell anyone, even her husband Patrick, who can be a gossip, although she does tell her sister who is not really very interested and claims not to have read her books. Patrick is twenty years her senior, was her lecturer when she was a student and is the man she fell deeply in love with, her desire for him being quite without end. They have always enjoyed reading each other’s work and commenting, even writing and suggesting ideas when the other one is stuck. But it is J B who is hit with the accusation that she would never have achieved so much without his help. No one ever comments on the help and writing that she has done for him.

J B books a cruise for their fourteenth wedding anniversary so that they can get away and try and overcome some of the mounting problems they seem to be having in their marriage. And so, it is onboard this ship, during a storm that Patrick goes overboard with his body turning up several days later. J B is questionned by the police but then it all goes quiet.

As we move through the book we realise what an unreliable narrator J B is, how memory and what she has written become muddled. Slowly, the layers are peeled back until we see a marriage that started with an unequal power balance and now the balance of power has shifted as wife becomes more successful than the husband.

This is a story of seduction and resentment with a very large dose of desire, both creative and sexual and a meditation on marriage. It incorporates what it means to be an author who has success – book readings, interviews and televison appearances – and where betrayal seems to lie at every turn. It as these appointments appear that we get the true desire of J B to be a winner.

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