Rules for Visiting is a novel about friendship, a meditative novel and focused on travel and home. May’s life is a series of routines: she lives with her elderly father, doesn’t see her brother, and doesn’t really talk to her neighbours. Though she enjoys her gardening career at the local university, she feels she needs something more, and some paid leave sparks off a chance to revisit some old friendships. As May visits her friends one by one, she reflects on their lives and her own, comparing classic literature and modern communication as she searches for what friendship is.
This is a calming sort of read, light and quirky but with some real meaning sown throughout. It has a precise and distinctive style, reflecting May’s thought processes, but leaving gaps for the reader to notice her loneliness and what she isn’t saying. The plant and book references are another distinctive feature, again very much linked to May’s character but also about how we use different points of reference to track our lives and our friendships.
Rules for Visiting is a quietly quirky book that looks at human connections and dealing with the past and the present. Maybe fittingly, it would make a good book to keep in a spare room or give to a visiting friend: a quick, understated yet moving novel that makes you think about friendship across time.