After seven years with would-be actor Tyler (who confusingly switches between Mr Chisel Jaw, Sensitive New Age Man, Little Boy Lost and Great Lover), architect Cass Everett’s decided to leave. Again. She’s got a great apartment in St Kilda, a new job at respected architecture firm Ormond, Fanning and Blainey and, thanks to a chance meeting with another tenant, a new group of breakfast companions, the Breakfast Network (a group of high-powered women from a variety of industries who informally meet at the caff nearby). But what really makes this time different is the shoulder, a ghostly presence in flat thirteen that gives Cass the strength and comfort to keep resolutely away from Tyler, enjoy her own company, and stand up for herself at work. Is it possible to fall in love with a ghost? Of a shoulder?
I sought out Forrester’s work because the great Greenwood mentions her several times in the Corinna Chapman series, and if Greenwood thinks she’s good she pretty much has to be! A Shoulder to Lean On was the only Forrester I was able to find at my local library and when I saw the cover I realised I’d read it when it was first released, well over a decade ago. I didn’t remember the plot, though, and that was a welcome surprise.
The main character is lively and strong, the men in the book are somewhat complex, and the plot was unquestionably original. It’s set in Melbourne and the presence of the city is authentic but subtle. A Shoulder to Lean On has worn relatively well, with only the occasional reference to “portable phones” jarring. Well that and an uncomfortable reference to a finger touching “the sharp point of her clitoris” – not dated, to be sure, but uinquestionably ouchy.
I’m going to meanderingly try to track down more of Forrester’s work, in part because I enjoyed A Shoulder to Lean On, in part because of the ongoing Greenwoodian references (I half suspect Forrester of being a nom de plume of Greenwood), and partly because I dimly recall a gay lover theme from the Chapman references and I’m a sucker for a little homoerotic romance. Watch this spot. – Alex