LANDING is an old-fashioned love story set in the early twenty-first century, a dark comedy about the peculiar pleasures and sorrows of keeping up long-distance relationships by plane, phone and Internet. Síle (pronounced like Sheila), an Irishwoman with an Indian mother, is a stylish citizen of the new (expensive, stressful, pomo) Dublin. A veteran flight attendant at 40, she is getting itchy in her career as much as in her domestic life. Jude, a 25-year-old archivist, stubbornly attached to the tiny town of Ireland, Ontario, has never been on a plane before. Two worlds touch and snag at Heathrow Airport on New Year’s Day, and over the course of a year, Jude’s and Síle’s lives, and those of their friends and families, will be drawn into a new, shaky orbit. The local collides with the eclectic, the historical with the global. LANDING is an allusive, sparkling, dialogue-based story about some of the biggest questions: Which things about you make you you? Does where you live matter more than who you live with? What would you give up for love, and would you be an idiot to?
Since the lovers are both women, it could be called a lesbian novel, but a post-closet one, which addresses its insights and jokes to the widest readership.
There's a line by the poet Robert Hass that might serve as an epigraph to the Irish writer Emma Donoghue's engaging new novel: "Longing, we say, because desire is full of endless distances." In Landing, she explores with a light, sure touch the subject of desire across distances of various kinds: generational, cultural, even spiritualDonoghue handles the complexities of the women's relationship with ease, transcribing their good-natured banter as they try to see if they have a future together. And there are moments amid the jokes and the (infrequent) steamy nights when the melancholy of separation is dispelled, giving a hint of what a new life might look like. "Why was it, Sile wondered, that emigration sounded noble and tragic, immigration grubby and grasping?" This is just one of the many questions that unfold in this entertaining journey into what Jude calls 'the intersection of love and geography."