Hannah is at that awkward stage in life when many women question what the hell they are doing, where is their life going, with ageing parents to attend to, looking after and living with their partner of the last 30 years - is this really all there is to the rest of one's life? Yep, the post menopausal woman. Awesome. No, I don't want to read about such a depressing subject!

But wait! In the midst of her mother's illness, death and subsequent funeral, her fracturing relationship with her husband Simon and her lifelong difficult relationship with her sister Maggie, she is given a duckling. A cute, yellow downy feathered gorgeous little creature that she pours her complete heart and soul into. Not surprisingly this all consuming focus on the duck alienates her from those who love her, and whose help she cannot see. Will the love of her life turn out to be the duck or will she return to the land of human beings?

How can one resist such a lovely little creature - the development of the relationship between Hannah and the duck is funny, moving, weird, alarming and when the duck gets big - it is a Muscovy duck - becomes downright dangerous. She has conversations with the duck, seeing the world from the duck's point of view as well as her own. The duck as therapist helps her unravel her complicated relationship with her mother and sister, helps her mourn her mother's death. Her sister Maggie and drug addicted husband Toby have their own troubles, with both marriages under threat. Will an impasse be reached? Will Hannah choose the duck over Simon? And what about Toby - can he survive?

I very much enjoyed this insightful and compassionate look at middle age, death, change of life. I found much of the duck dialogue/interface very weird, at times tedious and ridiculous, but never having experienced life-stopping grief I should not be too critical about how others cope! To top it all off, Judith White is a New Zealand author, and writes beautifully of the landscape, the beaches, the farmland, and surroundings that Hannah and Simon live in. Well worth a read.

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