Posted by: Lisa Hill | June 22, 2013

Sensational Snippets: A Wrong Turn at the Office of Unmade Lists (2013), by Jane Rawson

A Wrong Turn at the Office of Unmade ListsThis novel is a classic example of one where it’s better to keep going even if you’re completely confused and even a bit alienated from the characters.  Because there is one character, Caddie, who is so real, and so human, that IMO anyone who gives up on her is missing a basic bit of humanity themselves.

Here she is, talking about her husband:

I loved Harry.  I love him now, so much.  The smell of his neck, where it met his chin – is there a word for that?  That little corner, ripe for biting, for burying a face in when the world outside is too much and all there should be, as far as the horizon, is skin and warmth, and stubble, and the smell of Harry.

When I first met him I wasn’t sure.  I mean, I was sure; I was sure that nothing much would come of it.  He asked me to come home with him and I said no, that first time, but not because I had morals or anything – you’ve read the rest of this story, so you know I don’t – but because I was shy.  I said no, thinking I’d have another chance soon enough.

But I didn’t.  I invited him to things and he didn’t show up.  Then later, when he did, he didn’t want to talk to me.  I’d been having a time of disappointments and rejections and I was hardened to it.  I wrote him off.  I mean, seriously, why would I need a guy like Harry? He’d never read 1984.  He actually liked to drink Carlton Draught – give him a choice of beers and that’s the one he’d choose.  So, you know, whatever.  I started to look around.

What is it with guys? That’s what he needed, I guess: for me to not care.  I went home with him one night, then again a few days later, and later again. But I still didn’t care.

Here’s what he said to me: ‘Caddy, I love you.  I can’t  get enough of  you. ‘  Just like that. Not anywhere special or anytime special.

I don’t know why I’m still alive.  When we were together it became impossible for me to imagine life without him. OK, that’s not true – I did.  I’m that kind of person.  I imagined him finding someone else and leaving, or getting in a car accident, or something falling on him at work.  I imagined it all the time: how I’d pay the mortgage, would I have to get a boarder, would I have to move into an apartment and lose my garden.  Of course I imagined life without him.  But I did know that whatever practical measures I might take to manage, I would be, for all intents and purposes, dead.   Harry’s kindness, his just not minding how I was and who I was, his refusal to be afraid or even all that interested when I got crazy, him cooking, him with the soles of his feet pressed up against mine in bed at night – I was ruined for any kind of life without him.

People talk about great passions and they make it sound like it should be a tumult of fighting and declarations of undying love followed by public rooting and accusations of infidelity and then more declarations of how  one would die without the other [… ] You know what it’s really like?  It’s calm and quiet and steady, and it doesn’t change that much from one day to the next.  It’s always there.  You can count on it. You can know that when you get home in the evening, someone will be there and he’ll love you.  He might not tell you right away or anything, but he does.  He loves you.

Caddy loses Harry in a catastrophic accident, and this novel is about the resilience of the human spirit.

Jane Rawson, A Wrong Turn at the Office of Unmade Lists, Transit Lounge, 2013 p. 198-200


Fishpond: A Wrong Turn at the Office of Unmade Lists

Or direct from Transit Lounge


  1. I saw this listed and just loved the title … Lovely excerpt Lisa.


    • It’s beautiful, isn’t it? I think Rawson is a talented author. One to watch.


  2. I love the title of the novel. I love the excerpt you posted. It is so beautiful. This novel makes me think of Maggie O’Farrell’s ‘After You’d Gone’. Now I can’t wait to read your review of it. And I hope I get to read this book soon. Love your sensational snippets posts :)


  3. […] I said when I posted a Sensational Snippet about this book, Jane Rawson’s A Wrong Turn at the Office of Unmade Lists is ‘a classic […]


  4. […] Jane Rawson, author of A Wrong Turn at the Office of Unmade Lists (see my review and a Sensational Snippet […]


  5. […] award-winning A Wrong Turn at the Office of Unmade Lists (see my previous review and a Sensational Snippet) and I’m just about to start Alec Patric’s Black Rock White City (see my review). […]


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