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Sunday, 14 December 2014

Virginia Ironside - No I Don’t Want to Join a Bookshop

book review written and read live on the bookshow by Ro Bennett on 11th Dec 2014

From the Inside Flap
"Certainly not!" said Marie Sharp, when a friend suggests she join a bookclub when she turns sixty. "Bookclub people always seem to have to wade through Captain Corelli's Mandolin or, groan, The God of Small Things. They feel they've forever got to poke their brain with a pointed stick to keep it working. But either you've got a lively brain or you haven't. And anyway, I don't want to be young and stimulated any more.

Too young to get whisked away by a Stannah Stairlift, or to enjoy the luxury of a walk-in bath (but not so much that she doesn't enjoy comfortable shoes), Marie is all the same getting on in years - and she's thrilled about it. She's a bit preoccupied about whether to give up sex - Ouch! Ouch! Ouch! - but there are compensations, like falling in love with her baby grandson, and maybe falling in love with someone else too? 

Talking about giving up sex - I found that aspect of the book extremely tedious and a tad distasteful -  all the elderly characters seemed to be agonising over sex, more like rampant teenagers than well balanced older people - there are 65 mentions of the word sex - which is all very pertinent in a Fifty Shades of Grey type book, but seemed out of place and rather extreme and boring in this context. 

Apart from that aspect, I did enjoy the book. There were plenty of laugh out loud parts and I liked most of the characters and could identify with them and the challenges of growing older they were encountering. There was a good story line and some pathos as well. 

The story is a record of a year  in the life of Marie, a recently retired art teacher as she is approaching her 60th birthday. I did wonder how she got to retire before she turned 60!  It’s a mainly pleasant, easy and relaxing, feel good read. 

Virginia Ironside is a prolific writer. Her first book, Chelsea Bird, came out when she was nineteen. She was sixty-three when she wrote the book and is now nearing 70. She's written many books and for years was an "agony aunt" advice columnist for several English newspapers. She lives and writes in London.

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