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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.
About the Author
Joanna Nell was born in the UK and studied medicine at Cambridge and Oxford universities. Her short fiction has won multiple awards and has been published in various journals and literary anthologies. As a GP with a passion for women's health and care of the elderly, Joanna is drawn to writing character-driven stories for women in their prime, creating young-at-heart characters who are not afraid to break the rules and defy society's expectations of ageing. Joanna lives on Sydney's Northern Beaches with her husband and two teenage children.
For pure enjoyment I've seldom read a more delightful book. Now in our 80s, my wife and I have been residents in a retirement village for 15 years and we were able to relate totally with the foibles, squabbles, laughter, pathos, frustrations, forgetfulness, poor memories, and the many other age-related, living-together issues that confronted the residents of Jacaranda Village. The author certainly knew her subject. Though not a R.V. resident herself, she was a doctor with many years' experience of treating residents of R.Vs and women's issues. Add to this intimate knowledge her delightful literary style and the result is at times hilarious , touching, empathetic and a totally enjoyable read. My wife and I were hooked from the very first sentence: "Peggy Smart was ninety percent sure it was Monday."
Light hearted read
Aimed at an older demographic but had plenty of heart.
a brilliant debut novel
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
Easy & fun to read
I'm thoroughly enjoying this book & will probably read again as I get even older!
The Single Ladies of Jacaranda Retirement Village
‘Ah listen, I’ve just finished Joanna Nell’s debut novel, The Single Ladies of Jacaranda Retirement Village and it… is … a … hoot! I don’t think I’ve laughed out loud at a book as much since I read Marian Keyes’ Lucy Sullivan’s Getting Married on a train to Dublin many moons ago. It’s actually not out until October and to be honest, I may not have read it at all if I hadn’t been given an advanced reader’s copy, but I would have seriously missed out on an opportunity to read a novel which is the kind of medicinal entertainment I love when I’m feeling a bit low, particularly on some of the wetter Tasmanian winter days. A good laugh is a great tonic. And by the way, the author is a GP, so I’m sure she’ll be glad to hear her writing is having a positive effect on the well-being of at least one reader. So, regardless of your age, I can highly recommend you snuggle up with Peggy Smart and her band of old timers who have a lot to teach us about growing old, and it’s not about doing it gracefully’ ESTHER CAMPION
‘The perfect blend of funny and moving; Peggy Smart had me laughing and crying in this ultimately uplifting story’ NATASHA LESTER
‘I loved this warm and witty story of an older woman learning to stand up for herself, and found myself cheering for her to succeed. A terrific feel-good read’ KAYTE NUNN
‘I loved it! I want to be Peggy when I’m older. With many laugh-out-loud moments, this book celebrates life in the later years and is sure to make you see ‘getting old’ in a different light. A refreshing, funny, realistic and warm read’ FIONA PALMER
ISBN: 9780733640353 ISBN-10: 0733640354 Audience:
Number Of Pages: 368 Published: 25th September 2018 Publisher: Hachette Australia Country of Publication: AU Dimensions (cm): 23.3 x 15.3
Weight (kg): 0.45
Edition Number: 1