Wednesday, June 23, 2010
Format: audio - 8 1/2 hours; 256 pgs paperback ( I started reading, ended up listening)
Characters: Mary Sharp
Subject: turning 60
Setting: Somewhere in England
Genre: fiction written as diary entries
Source: public library
Challenge: Support Your Local Library
Get over it Mary! As I mentioned earlier this week,if this one hadn't been on audio with an exceptional narrator, I'd have thrown it across the room yelling "you're not old!" I started reading the paperback at the library where I work, after my sister (who is considerably younger than I) had mentioned she had read it, and gave it a mezzo-mezzo review. So I thought, well maybe I'll be more enthused if I listen to it. NOT.
This is supposedly the diary of a curmudgeonly retired teacher who is turning 60 and who has decided that at 60, life is over. Now that she's retired, she's determined to put her brain into idle, and do nothing. Except that makes her miserable. She has no desire to read, learn a language, take trips, have sex, go to the doctors, etc etc etc. When her son announces she is to become a grannie, she professes to be delighted. But....other people have grandchildren too, and they have lives and they don't go around moaning about how no one takes them seriously now that they've gotten "OLD" --for pete's sake, she just turned 60! She seems quite happy to embrace the trappings of being old (free prescriptions, free public transportation REMEMBER IT"S SET IN GREAT BRITAIN), she's delighted to be a grandmother, and does a pretty admirable job at that, but she sounds so whiney trying to convince us she's happy.
The book is at it's best when she describes her relationship with Hughie, a dear friend who is dying of lung cancer. As she goes through the grieving and letting go process with Hughie's partner Jamie, she comes to a gentle acceptance that helps Jamie do the same. It is at its funniest when she describes some of her adventures in dealing with new-fangled baby items that did not exist when she was a young mother. The celebrated Brit humor can leave the reader gasping for breath from laughing. It's worth a read, but not worth spending hard earned dollars. Look for it at the library if you're having aging issues. Otherwise, you're probably better off watching someone like Dame Judy Dench in some of her great Brit Com on netflix.