Hilde Hinton – A Solitary Walk on the Moon

Hachette, Australia, 2022
Cover design by Christabella Design
Cover artwork Elizabeth Mayville

A Solitary Walk on the Moon is a compassionate, funny and astutely observed piece of writing; its ­rather like its female lead, Evelyn, in fact.

Barbie spoke to Hilde Hinton about A Solitary Walk on the Moon

The author explores themes of home and family, loneliness as opposed to solitariness, bullying, cheating, childhood trauma, addiction, PTSD, love and loss.

And then there is the importance of divergent thinking and imagination. It’s a rich work, both heart-breaking and hopeful.

Evelyn runs a laundromat in her current iteration. She’s had multiple lives in many places, all hinted at but not detailed for the reader, and she’s left them all behind when they started closing in on her.

She is determined not to become too close to people for fear of being hurt and yet she has made for herself a workplace where she can always observe the people in her community and leap in to help when she sees a need for her especial skills.

She meets Don when she’s buying paint – a blue the colour fire engines would be if they were blue. He’s the paint shop man and immediately understands her. He willingly joins her habitual flights of fancy, for she lives so much in her head – and soon becomes an important part of her life, despite her struggle against this. He’s a thoroughly good chap.

Then she is drawn into the lives of drug addict, June, and her vulnerable, creative son, Ben. Despite her best intentions, she ends up spending nights with June as she comes down from a particularly awful drug experience and then taking Ben and June into her own home to make sure both are all right – especially Ben, for whom she has already developed a great affection, making sure he has afternoon tea treats from the bakery after school and clean clothes to put on in the morning.

Phillip is another adoptee, an ex-policeman who collects model trains. He’s clearly had some suffering to manage and, like Evelyn, is happy in a world of fantasy and imagination. There is a childlike quality to their relationship, but an adult usefulness to it when a number of matters in which Evelyn has involved herself have to be reported to the local police station.

To detail too much more plot will be to spoil things for the reader – there’s a lot going on in Evelyn’s world and we travel through her feelings and doings as she tries to help others and keep herself on an even keel, the monumental task of overcoming her regular meltdowns, recalled sadnesses and hurts. We ache for Evelyn and always hope for the best for her.

There is so much heart in this novel and we are swept along with the multiple stories within Evelyn’s tale and those of the support cast. It is skilfully wrought and delivered both with sparkling, wry humour and utter pathos.

The dialogue is easy and believable. The vignettes are often laugh out loud, but then we are cast into darkness as we occupy Evelyn’s mind. There’s so much inner turmoil for this dear woman and as a reader, I must say I felt it all.

What a clever writer Hilde Hinton is! She has us in the palm of her hand, agog, laughing, crying, groaning, sighing, smiling, chortling even. I look forward to whatever she writes next.

Thank you to Hachette for my review copy and to Hilde for speaking with me about this beautiful book.