Monday, August 3, 2009

No! I Don't Want to Join a Book Club: Diary of a 60th Year, by Virginia Ironside

I'll be honest: I borrowed this book from the library because I learned that I didn't have an "I" author in my A to Z Challenge. In fact, the last trip to the library was to fill in some gaps for my Library Challenge, my Dewey Decimal Challenge, and the aforementioned A to Z Challenge.

For me, the title of a book really piques my interest, and this title was no exception. I am a member of two book clubs, so of course my eyes perked up when I saw the writing on the spine.

I borrowed it without reading the flap on the dust jacket.

I read it, and...well, it was all right, but it's not a book I would rave about.

The main reason I don't rave about it is simply that I had trouble relating to the material. The subtitle of this work is Diary of a 60th Year. I am a long way from being 60. I don't have to worry about menopause or memory lapses, and I don't get discounts for being older--yet. My time will come, but not for awhile.

Anyway, if I were to summarize this book in one sentence, I'd say this: "Bridget Jones enters middle age." That's what I was thinking about fifty pages in. Marie Sharp, the 60-year-old at the center of this work, does not want to become, in her eyes, the stereotypical 60-year-old who takes Italian classes and joins a book club. She doesn't see the point; she just wants to age gracefully and do her own thing, and where the heck is she going to use her Italian?

There is a wealth of emotions in here, though, and the characters are very real. All of them have different experiences and opinions about what it's like to be older. Penny, Marie's best friend, is desperate to find a man. So desperate she'll date anyone she meets through an online dating service. And I do mean anyone. Penny also adds comic relief because she is a hypochondriac. She keeps many health books in her flat, and is always phoning Marie in fear that she has some disease which she self-diagnosed.

Hughie is another close friend of Marie's. He lives with James, his partner of twenty years. Hughie is diagnosed with lung cancer, and Marie's entries chronicle her grief and sadness as she watches her friend's illness progress. This was the most painful part of the novel for me.

Archie is Marie's first love. His wife, Philippa, recently died of cancer. He and Marie get together several times throughout the book, and Marie's entries hint at a possible romance.

Finally, there are Jack and Chrissie, Marie's son and daughter-in-law. They have just become parents to a son, Gene. Marie is in unabashed love with her grandson. It's very touching to read her accounts of the affection she feels for him.

I wrote earlier that this book is like reading something that Bridget Jones would write if she were 60. I say this because Marie drops hints at a very wild, Bridget-like past. I won't say much about it, but let's just say that Marie had a lot of fun in the 1960s. And she doesn't regret it--well, most parts she doesn't regret.

OK, earlier I wrote that I had trouble relating to the book because I wasn't a 60-year-old. But now that I've written about it I realize that I related to a lot more than I originally had thought. This is not a book that I would want to add to my personal library in the future, but it's a light, enjoyable read, good for if you want to take a break from some heavy-duty reading. This won't become a classic like any of the Bridget Jones novels, but it is a pleasant enough read, just the same.

This is the latest entry in my 2009 100+ Reading Challenge, my 2009 Support Your Local Library Challenge, and my 2009 A to Z Challenge. Make sure you click on the buttons in the right sidebar for all of the archived lists of my reads!

1 comment:

Angie said...

I read that book earlier this year for my blog - and I would agree with your assessment. It wasn't that great.

Thanks for becoming a follower on my blog.