Wednesday, 13 February 2019

The Single Ladies of Jacaranda Retirement Village – Joanna Nell

If you enjoyed Three Things about Elsie (Joanna Cannon) and The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry (Rachael Joyce), chances are you will be a fan of Joanna Nell’s first novel, The Single Ladies of Jacaranda Retirement Village.

It’s the funny, heart warming and life affirming story of Peggy Smart, who at 79 and a half lives alone in a retirement village with her aging Shih Tzu Basil, while still grieving for her late husband who died four years previously. Her adult son and daughter are anxiously watching for signs of dementia and falls, and Peggy fears being removed from her own home and uprooted to a rest home.

With her weak bladder, an affliction she’s suffered from since childhood, weekly doctors appointments and aqua class there isn’t much to enjoy in life apart from watching her neighbour, Lexus driving, chartered accountant Brian leave for his morning swim. Peggy dreams of inviting Brian to dinner but fears she’s past it and that he wouldn’t be interested in her.

However out of the blue her old school friend, the glamorous and beautiful fashionista Angie Valentine, moves into the same retirement village, turning the heads of the few male residents and challenging Peggy’s ideas of aging. After a fall results in a broken wrist for Peggy, Angie takes her under her wing. With a fashion makeover, a new hairstyle and a new group of friends, the fun and mischief start for Peggy.

There’s lots of laugh-out-loud humour in this fun story, with the delightful Peggy being a little forgetful and also inclined to mix her metaphors, mishear words and utter malapropisms (“orgasms on the kitchen counter” “blue teeth”), while at the same time focusing attention on some of the difficulties the older generations face.

This UK born but Sydney based GP/novelist with an interest in women's health and aging believes that being a doctor makes her a better writer and that being a writer makes her a better doctor too. Joanna’s warm wisdom and understanding is certainly apparent throughout the book which is sure to be enjoyed both by Peggy’s generation and the children of that generation. I will be watching out for Joanna’s next book.

Highly recommended.

Posted by VT

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