At first Ruth, a 70-something woman who lives alone in a rather remote part of Australia and near the sea, thinks she hears a tiger, but it is very clear it is not in the house. It’s also clear to the reader that there is no flesh and blood tiger involved.
Next thing we know, a woman named Frieda shows up to help with the grooming and housework – she says she’s from the government, but is that totally true? It seems rather odd because nobody sent for her. Friends stays only there for a few hours a day at first, otherwise she lives with her brother George. She’s simply a “care provider.”
In her youth, Ruth lived in Fiji and as it turns out Frieda is from there. This is the great element of suspense – why is Frieda in Ruth’s home and what does she want? But the story moves kind of slowly, although the psychological suspense certainly builds.
Ruth invites her old flame, Richard, who is now a widower, to visit. He also knew Ruth in Fiji, but Richard married a Japanese woman and so Ruth and Richard have not seen each other since Richard’s wedding. But Ruth did marry and had two sons – her husband is now also deceased, the boys are grown and live in Sydney and New Zealand. Ruth really is alone except for Frieda.
The main characters, Frieda and Ruth are very, very nicely drawn. although the story is told in third person it’s much closer to Ruth than to Frieda. Frieda remains a rather unknown quantity – we’re never privy to her thoughts, motives, ideas, but her actions speak pretty loudly. Something is up.
Bottom line – it was pretty good novel in a lot of ways – something to curl up with on a rainy weekend. 🙂