Uphill all the Way is a story about loss, and not just average, run of the mill loss, but gut-wrenching, not explainable by rhyme or reason loss. When someone who feels like an extension of you, almost like a body part, is ripped away it's going to cause some very significant damage when that person is suddenly, and violently, taken from you. Dealing with that damage is a long, slow, often torturous process, and one that never leaves us the same person we were before.
Sue Moorcroft's main character, Judith, loses her lover Giorgio after a senseless accident she feels was partly her fault. Even though there had been some bumps in the relationship, and even the occasional doubt about whether they were actually destined for each other, it's only after he's gone she fully realizes the impact he's made on her life. In addition to the raw animal attraction she felt with and for him, and the satisfying physical relationship they shared, he was also a symbol of what her life in Malta meant to her, and the personification of all the connections she'd developed there. Coming from England, Malta brought Judith out of her old life and into a new, exotic existence. After spending some time there, then going away again, she realizes the pull the place has on her. Feeling torn between her native and adopted countries, while also struggling with huge loss, Judith is forced to take a very hard look at herself and her life, and to make some difficult decisions. Add to this a new potential love interest, and her conflict expands to asking herself when one has mourned long enough and can allow oneself to love again.
Uphill all the Way is a novel about a woman finding herself at a cross-road, which is one of my very favorite themes in fiction. Novels like this are satisfying to read, especially when the resolutions feel "right" and the characters experience growth that feels genuine and real. Even if the exact predicaments of the characters don't match anything we've ever experienced, most of us can commiserate with their feelings of being overwhelmed, often desperate and conflicted. Add to this a setting in Malta, an area of the world I've never visited and very possibly never will, and you have something that's familiar and exotic, at the same time.
This is a very satisfying read, all around, if a bit of a jolt to me personally as it deals with themes I've also been dealing with in recent years. Sometimes it's those very jolts, though, that force you out of a grim reverie and get you moving along the right track again. Having finally posted my intended review of Uphill all the Way, I have that very good feeling of taking a step I'd been meaning to take for months now, which is an added bonus.
Time to move forward now, in more ways than one.