Book review: Love, Death & Other Scenes, Nova Weetman

A memoir that tracks the love and loss of a long-term partner.
Two panels. On the left is a brunette woman with long hair. She is smiling and standing in front of a bookcase. On the right is the cover of a book that says 'Love, Death & Other Scenes' in white font, will and illustration of a couple lying on a bed. You can only see the top of their heads and their arms.

A successful Australian youth literature author, Nova Weetman has branched into non-fiction with her  memoir Love, Death & Other Scenes. This book is a poignant exploration of love and loss, germinated as a way for Weetman to process the death of Aidan Fennessy, her partner of 25 years, during the 2020 COVID lockdowns.

Structured with the elegance of a three-act play (a small nod to Fennessy’s career as a playwright), the novel sees Weetman invite her readers into the deeply personal journey of her grief, marked with intimate reflections and heartfelt revelations. She confronts her own pain and loneliness with beautifully generous honesty, composure and curiosity.  

The prologue, interludes and epilogue are written as a letter to her partner, offering a small glimpse into the raw vulnerability of loss. Each scene is crafted with care, skillfully intertwining Weetman’s story with  Fennessy’s, illustrating how their lives became inseparable, as if their togetherness was an inevitability. Her power as a writer is putting you in the room with her, in the hardest moments of her life, breaking your heart over and over, yet emerging with a new appreciation for the transformative nature of grief.  

Weetman masterfully depicts the confronting reality of losing a loved one and the profound impact that  cancer has on the human body. Her descriptions are visceral, pulling readers into the intimate details of Fennessy’s illness and the emotional turmoil that follows. The account of his final moments requires  tissues on hand. It is devastating and beautiful. 

Throughout, Weetman tackles profound questions of life after loss. How do you tell your children that  their father is going to die? How do we continue when reminders of our loved ones are everywhere? How does grief reshape our identity? Each chapter acts as a small tribute to the playwright – small pieces of him that Weetman loved and that she now must navigate without them.  

Amid the sorrow, Weetman infuses moments of joy and wisdom, celebrating the resilience of the human spirit and the enduring power of love. The book is also an exploration of self-discovery and growth. 

Read: Book review: The Honeyeaters, Jessie Tu

Warm, wise and deeply moving, Love, Death & Other Scenes is a testament to Weetman’s storytelling prowess and her ability to capture the universal emotions that bind us. Her capacity to capture the  nuance of grief and love with such clarity and compassion makes it a must-read for anyone who has  experienced loss or is seeking a deeper understanding of its impact. It’s a book that speaks to the living  that we must do after a great loss, a book that will keep you thinking long after you’ve put it back on the  shelf.  

Love, Death & Other Scenes, Nova Weetman
Publisher: UQP
ISBN: 9780702268434
Format: Paperback
Pages: 288pp

Price: $34.99
Publication date: 3 April 2024

Hayley Thomas is an Adelaide born performing artist, arts writer and talent relations manager. She holds a Bachelor of Music Theatre from the University of Adelaide and a Graduate Certificate in Arts (Screen Studies) from the University of Melbourne. She has a love for research-based film analysis, exploring the nuances of the human psyche. Her other interests include running, Pilates, dogs and pasta. Hayley is based in Naarm (Melbourne), Australia. Instagram: @hayleyerynn