Landing by Emma Donoghue
Take a look at the cover and you can probably guess what Landing is about. Yup, it’s a love story. But with Donoghue at the helm, you have to expect some unconventionality at the very least.
So the hand on the left belongs to Síle (pronounced Sheila) O’Shaughnessy of Dublin, Ireland, and the right to Jude Turner of Ireland, Ontario. Síle may be Irish-born and bred, but with an Indian mother, she’s not quite Irish enough for some people. At 39, she’s spent many years as a worldly flight attendant, staying well-connected via her “gizmo,” enjoying a rather glamorous city life when she’s on the ground. At 25, Jude – also a hybrid mix, of a Canadian father and an English mother – is a technophobic Luddite, runs a small village’s tiny museum, and has never had the need or desire to travel very far.
The two meet on a plane over a dead body (!) … Síle working, Jude hoping to survive her inaugural flight (another !). How much more memorable can love at first sight be? In spite of thousands of miles, die-hard habits, missing mothers, past and present lovers, doubting friends, Síle and Jude slowly work their lives together.
Interwoven with the pitter-patter inducing love story is a mindful look at immigration (“emigration sounded noble and tragic, immigration grubby and grasping”), from peripatetic parents criss-crossing the globe to their stay-at-home progeny facing re-invention and relocation. Falling in love outside your comfort zone means borders change, populations shift, cultures adapt, racism threatens, and strangers can become family.
Just a final thought … perhaps Donoghue writes part of her own immigration story here: Like Síle, Donoghue is Dublin-born, and now lives with her partner and their children in … London, Ontario. Love can land you anywhere …