Book Review: A Solitary Walk on the Moon explores our failure to connect, but it won’t be for everyone

A Solitary Walk on the Moon

Evelyn owns a laundromat in the Melbourne CBD. She surveys her community, making internal observations about the people she sees; the elderly man in the dapper suit who seems to be getting more forgetful, the young man with the new puppy at the park every morning, the tattooed couple who argue constantly. Evelyn notices everything, though she herself largely goes unnoticed. That’s the way she likes it, really.

When she begins to notice a young boy and his exhausted mother coming in every Tuesday, Evelyn and Ben strike up a friendship. She pretends to have too much food left over, offering it to Ben because she knows he’s hungry and answering his thousands of questions so that his mother can get on with her washing in peace.

When she notices the forgetful old man out walking early in the morning and clearly lost, she pretends to be his neighbour and walks him home. But Evelyn’s kindness is tinged with strangeness too.

She follows people home so she knows where they live, and in her ‘memory drawer’ (containing one thing from each ‘former life’), she owns a set of lock-picking implements. Is Evelyn really as community minded as she seems? Or is our unreliable protagonist hiding some dark secrets?

There is something heartwarming about reading Hilde Hinton’s second novel, A Solitary Walk on the Moon. The author has put much of her own community-mindedness into Evelyn, and it’s clear that both she and her protagonist have a genuine interest in helping people.

Like other unusual characters before her (think, Eleanor Oliphant), she is unaware that others might find her behaviour unnerving, and be mistrustful of her; particularly when she does things like let herself into Ben’s apartment when he loses his key, or stay the night at their house when his mother is having a particularly bad come down. But there is kindness at the heart of all she does, even if she does occasionally have uncharitable thoughts.

At a model train fair, she buys coffees for a group of people, including the man everyone seems to be avoiding looking at, whom she thinks of as ‘The Smelly Man’ until he introduces himself as John. And when she meets a man at the paint shop who seems to like her despite her insistence on finding a shade of blue paint ‘that is the shade of blue a fire engine would be if fire engines were blue’, Evelyn begins to imagine a better, less lonely life for herself.

Through the vehicle of Evelyn, Hinton has produced a beautiful (if sometimes quite saccharine) treatise on loneliness in big cities where people are everywhere but fail to connect with one another. The writing does sometimes stray too far into the twee. But,avai if you’re looking for a heartwarming book for your book club, then this might be just what the doctor ordered. Be prepared for strangeness that never gets explained, and multiple sub plots that have varying degrees of depth to them.


Hilde Hinton’s A Solitary Walk on the Moon is out now from Hachette Australia. Grab yourself a copy from Booktopia HERE.

Emily Paull

Emily Paull is a former bookseller, and now works as a librarian. Her debut book, Well-Behaved Women, was released by Margaret River Press in 2019.