An innocent meeting whilst taking her granddaughter the park leads to a life changing experience for Jeanie.
Jeanie is in fact not happy; she has her health, lovely honest friends, a beautiful granddaughter and her health food shop. But something is missing, and that something is actually still there. Her husband George has decided that as her 60th birthday approaches Jeanie ‘the old girl’ needs to move from the city to the country, give up her work, playing tennis, socialising and retire.
Jeanie does not want to do any of these things. She says so on more than one occasion but no one seems to be listening. Not her daughter who is trying to hold together her own personal life and certainly not her husband. But the stranger in the park does listen, even when she admits the most intimate of secrets; her and husband have not had sex for 10 years. Not through her choice but a decision made by her husband – with no discussion. Jeanie wants discussion she wants to understand. George cannot do either of these things.
A lot happens to Jeannie and there is never any discussion. But with the stranger in the park on a Thursday, Ray, there with his grandson and issues of his own something starts to happen and Jeanie sees what she may well have been missing for the last years. Meeting Ray has brought to the surface all the unspoken problems. And there is that something that Jeanie does not have with her husband; discussion.
Events take over and Jeanie still with no discussion is effectively bullied and manipulated by George up to the point where you think that this is not a story which will have a happy ending. Only by carrying on will you find out whether Jeanie and George can discuss themselves out of the corner they have both backed themselves into.
This is the first book I have read by Hilary Boyd and was pleasantly surprised by it. The characters drew me in so quickly, I wanted to scream at George who kept calling Jeanie ‘old girl’ all the time the patronising insert your own descriptive expletive at this junction. His inability to not listen was so frustrating. Her daughter Chanty, was rather self-centred and absorbed in her own life and her relationship with Alex as toxic as her parents but she was never going to see it. Only does a drastic incident with her daughter make Chanty see that perhaps you have to look much deeper about someone. Alex and Jeanie brought the rather predictable dislike of son in law/mother in law interaction and could have gone many ways I would never have predicted the events that took place, handled effectively by the author.
A rather good absorbing read which I devoured pretty much in one sitting. Initially being very skeptical because I bought it for 20p and thought that it was a reflection of the book and the writing – certainly not. If you want to move away from the flighty, vacuous women that inhabit some women’s fiction books then this is a book which will restore faith. Ultimately a romance with a few suspenseful twists along the way.
Having recently read Sue Townsend’s The Woman Who went to Bed for a Year, which dealt with a similar scenario of a husband completely oblivious to his wife both physically and emotionally – this book was much better. Much better. The rest of the plots are not in any way comparable. I can see why this book has become a hit and actually I wish I had read it as part of my book club – I think it would make for some really interesting discussion points.