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Description - The Single Ladies of Jacaranda Retirement Village by Joanna Nell

Joanna Nell's life-affirming debut is a moving, funny, heartwarming tale of love and community in the spirit of The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry and Grace and Frankie

The life of 79-year-old pensioner PEGGY SMART is as beige as the decor in her retirement village. Her week revolves around aqua aerobics and appointments with her doctor. Following a very minor traffic accident, things have turned frosty with her grown-up children and she is afraid they are trying to take away her independence.

The highlight of Peggy's day is watching her neighbour Brian head out for his morning swim. She dreams of inviting the handsome widower - treasurer of the Residents' Committee and one of the few eligible men in the village - to an intimate dinner. But why would an educated man like Brian, a chartered accountant no less, look twice at Peggy? As a woman of a certain age, she fears she has become invisible, even to men in their eighties.

But a chance encounter with an old school friend she hasn't seen in five decades - the glamorous fashionista ANGIE VALENTINE - sets Peggy on an unexpected journey of self-discovery.

'Lively and whimsical ... with some serious points to make about ageing, love, community and friendship' Sydney Morning Herald

'This heartwarming story about growing old gracefully - and disgracefully ... is a funny, witty and thoroughly enjoyable read for all ages' Daily Telegraph

'I haven't been this entranced by a character since Eleanor (Oliphant, of course). This book is a joy - it's a celebration of age instead of an apology for it, and a reminder that life is always an adventure if you let it be. I loved this uniquely endearing book' KELLY RIMMER

'I loved it! I want to be Peggy when I'm older. With many laugh-out-loud moments, this book is sure to make you see "getting old" in a different light. A refreshing, funny, realistic and warm read' FIONA PALMER

'The perfect blend of funny and moving: had me laughing and crying in this ultimately uplifting story' NATASHA LESTER

Buy The Single Ladies of Jacaranda Retirement Village by Joanna Nell from Australia's Online Independent Bookstore, Boomerang Books.

Book Details

ISBN: 9780733640353
Format: Paperback / softback
(233mm x 153mm x 27mm)
Pages: 368
Imprint: Hachette Australia
Publisher: Hachette Australia
Publish Date: 25-Sep-2018
Country of Publication: Australia

Book Reviews - The Single Ladies of Jacaranda Retirement Village by Joanna Nell

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Book Review: The Single Ladies of Jacaranda Retirement Village by Joanna Nell - Reviewed by (07 Nov 2018)

I was quite torn by this book. It was funny and entertaining but I also found it easy to put down. I was easily distracted by other things and it ended up taking me a week to read. I wasn’t drawn into the story or the characters, just a mere bystander.

I couldn’t relate to Peggy, a frail 79 year old. My mother at 80 and my mother-in-law at 89 are both active, vibrant and extremely self reliant people.

I really enjoyed the politics of the retirement village which elicited quite a few giggles and Peggy’s crush on Brian was sweet and this was one plot line I was eager to see through to the finish.

At times I felt quite saddened by Peggy’s circumstances and her inner thoughts and at other times she had me in fits of laughter.

Nell covers many women’s health issues in a humorous, but never demeaning, way.

Peggy’s constant thoughts of “looking after” Brian, ironing his clothes, cooking his meals had me rolling my eyes and wondering if Peggy really wanted to gain any independence.

The introduction of Angie, Peggy’s best friend from school days, was a breath of fresh air; at last salvation. Angie had lived a wild, crazy life and the two hadn’t seen each other for 50 years but they instantly reconnected, old friendships are like that. I loved Angie....and then I didn’t! You will have to read the book to find out why.

Even though I struggled to love this book I would suggest you read it if you have an ageing parent, you may learn some empathy, or if you are approaching the retirement home stage, you will learn to speak up, play up and never stop having fun.

Book Review: The Single Ladies of Jacaranda Retirement Village by Joanna Nell - Reviewed by (03 Nov 2018)

5 stars

The Single Ladies of Jacaranda Retirement Village is the first novel by British-born Australian doctor and author, Joanna Nell. Peggy Smart has been at Jacaranda Retirement Village since Ted died four years ago. She’s quite happy sharing her little unit with Basil, her ageing Shih Tzu, but hasn’t made any real friends. And she would like to get to know the handsome Brian Cornell a bit better: nights without Ted to cuddle her can be a bit lonely.

Might he ever be interested in someone as dull as Peggy? “I’m a seventy-nine-year-old widow with a broken arm and a body like day-old rice pudding. It’s time to face facts. I’m past it.” Peggy tries to be independent: the last thing she wants is for her (interfering) son and daughter to put her away; but she is a bit forgetful sometimes, and her waterworks problems make it difficult to enjoy everything she’d like to do.

Things are changing at Jacaranda, though: a new doctor might just sort out Peggy’s bladder, and Brian seems to be noticing her. Until, that is, Angie Valentine turns up. Angie’s a blast from Peggy’s past: gorgeous (still, at nearly eighty!) and stylish, she has the heads of the few males at Jacaranda turning. Peggy watches Angie captivating everyone at Jacaranda, and feels ready to give up. But Angie has other plans. Soon, in the mirror, “Instead of a pensioner camouflaged in fifty shades of beige, she saw an elegant, mature woman with a figure.”

What a charming tale Nell gives the reader! The plot is not as predictable as it might first seem, and Nell manages to include plenty of humour, both in the dialogue and the antics of her characters: pricing a Karaoke machine, swimming laps, hosting a Fashion Parade, crashing a birthday party, hair and clothing makeovers, clinic visits, and the sabotage, with laced brownies, of a certain (Basil-adverse) residents’ committee vote, all present the reader with laugh-out loud moments.

None of Nell’s characters is wholly good or bad: all have human flaws as well as virtues, but Peggy is the star of the show. She is truly a delight, but she’s also the reason that this novel should not be read in the quiet carriage on public transport. Peggy’s little errors: her malapropisms, her mixed metaphors, her mangling of common expressions, her (unintentional) double entendres, and misheard words, will have the reader exploding into laughter. Sometimes they are very subtle (Dave’s knee deconstruction op), other times, glaringly obvious (Angie’s Louis Carthorse-style chairs), but definitely worth watching out for.

Readers of a certain vintage will doubtless identify with Peggy’s issues and worries (Nell captures the senior mindset perfectly), while those a generation younger will appreciate the situation from David and Jenny’s perspective. Nell highlights the dilemma, for our ageing population, of balancing safety with independence, comfort and indulgence with the discipline of exercise and health, medication with more wholistic treatment. This is a brilliant debut novel, and Nell’s further works will be eagerly anticipated.