Popping by to share my thoughts on The Old Girls’ Network.
Is it ever too late to change…
After a health scare, 77 year-old spinster Barbara goes to convalesce in the sleepy Somerset village of Winsleigh Green with her sister Pauline, who is now a widow. The sisters are like chalk and cheese – Barbara, outspoken and aloof and Pauline, good natured and homely – so it’s not long before the tension starts to rise.
But when Pauline accidentally knocks down a vagrant who goes by the name of Bisto Mulligan, the ladies find themselves with another houseguest. As he recovers, it becomes apparent that Bisto is not who he first seemed, and as the sisters get to know the kind and courageous man he really is, it’s clear Bisto has the potential to change both of their lives.
As the spring turns to summer, and Winsleigh Green comes to life, can the three friends make the changes they need to, to embrace fresh starts, new loves, new lives and new horizons. Or do old habits die too hard?
This is the kind of book that really injects a bit of joy into your life, it’s heartwarming, uplifting and definitely a feel good book that will give you some laughs.
I quite enjoyed the fact that all the characters were later on in life, it’s nice to have characters that have already been through a lot and still have so much to enjoy and to do. The setting of Winsley Green really adds to the story, a little place where everyone knows each others business, great for support but also gossip.
I liked that Pauline and Barbara were so different, Barbara is quite sharp and opinionated whereas Pauline is warm and fits in easily, it was nice to see their relationship develop from perfunctory into something meaningful and made even more fun by the appearance of the quirky and at times mysterious Bisto.
Of course this change, especially in Barbara is helped along by the other residents of Winsley, you really feel that community spirit start to seep into Barbara the longer she stays there. There are dramas galore for the other residents and a few good events (I’d never heard of welly wanging before but it’ll have you in stitches) and these start to open her, and Bisto, up to the possibility of a different way of life.
The Old Girls’ Network has all the right ingredients for a wonderfully lighthearted and engaging read, it has characters that you can’t help but fall in love with and I would recommend it if you are looking for a fun distraction.
Judy Leigh is the bestselling author of Five French Hens, A Grand Old Time and The Age of Misadventure and the doyenne of the ‘it’s never too late’ genre of women’s fiction. She has lived all over the UK from Liverpool to Cornwall, but currently resides in Somerset.