The Golden Oldies’ Book Club – Judy Leigh

Deep in the Somerset countryside, the Combe Pomeroy village library hosts a monthly book club.

Ruth, librarian fears she’s too old to find love, but a discussion about Lady Chatterley’s Lover
makes her think again.

Aurora doesn’t feel seventy-two and longs to relive the excitement of her youth, while Verity is
increasingly tired of her husband Mark’s grumpiness and wonders if their son’s imminent flight from the nest might be just the moment for her to fly too.

And Danielle is fed up with her cheating husband. Surely life has more in store for her than to settle for second best?

The glue that holds Combe Pomeroy together is Jeannie. Doyenne of the local cider farm and heartbeat of her family and community, no one has noticed that Jeannie needs some looking after too. Has the moment for her to retire finally arrived, and if so, what does her future hold?

From a book club French exchange trip, to many celebrations at the farm, this is the year that everything changes, that lifelong friendships are tested, and for some of the women, they finally get the love they deserve.

I find it hard to articulate just how pleased and honoured I am to have been given the opportunity to review Judy Leigh’s latest book. I just love the fun and adventure in Judy’s books and the fact that her heroines are often older than what is stereotypical. Knowing that I will love this book, I have selfishly chosen a weekend when I am ‘home alone’, when I should be doing all manner of things in the house. Instead I am choosing to ‘book-binge’ on ‘The Golden Oldies’ Book Club’.

Bring on the fun!

I instantly warmed to both Jeannie and her Mother Violet, although I think that life hasn’t always dealt Jeanie the best hands. I get the impression that she has always ended up picking things up are other people have left, for example her Son leaving his two teenage children in Jeannie’s hands. loved Violet, with a joke or a scathing comment for every occasion, for example when she was talking about Ruth ‘That’s the problem with small skinny people. They are bossy little dictators.’ If did seem as though Jeannie was somewhat at a turning point in her life – and why the hell not – there was undoubtedly more to life. Has she taken on too much though, looking after her twin grandchildren while they study for their A levels? Is the Blossom Time Festival one event too many? Would the ‘grande finale’ of the festival be good for Sharrocks or not?

Aurora really did seem like the life and soul of the party, albeit a little sad that she was getting older, but most of all, I felt for Danielle – or did I? I felt for her, with her cheating, conniving Husband, but then she lost some of my respect for not doing anything about him. But then I suppose that is a bit of a fleeting thought on my part, not having been in that situation myself. It cannot be easy to either uproot oneself, or to chuck out said ‘Despicable Him’. The big question is as to whether it not it really is over this time……again…! I liked Danielle and I really wanted her to come out of her toxic marriage with a fair settlement, despite her ex doing his very best to ensure she got nothing from their business.

Aurora was actually a big of a mystery. She seemed quite happy living by herself, yet she seemed to have a bit of a thing for a guitar playing chap from her past – a man that if you asked her about him, she would claim not to remember him at all, but she clearly had very fond memories of him. Could he possibly be about to make a return to the area?

Ruth, although the extreme opposite of Aurora, even down to their given names, was an interesting character, but I just felt that she needed some kind of boost – some kind of injection of ‘va va voom’ or some such panacea. I just kept finding myself desperately willing for some of the ofher book club members’ spirit and confidence to rub off on her. I loved how she seemed to change, dependent on the subject/storyline, once immersed in a book

Mark and Verity seemed an odd couple – or were they? Were they odd, or was the fact that they were attending a book club together, odd? At the risk of sounding sexist, all the book groups I have ever known have actually been an excuse for a bunch of female friends to get together and have a hood old gossip over a glass of wine, with the occasional literary discussion thrown in. Maybe that’s just me and my uncouth friends, or could it be possible that Mark either doesn’t actually trust Verity to meet her female friends without him, or that he just enjoys throwing the odd provocative remark at tbe group, just to put the proverbial cat amongst the pigeons? Given one word to describe Mark, it would be ‘odious’.

The arrival of ‘new to the village Antony Palmer was most certainly a welcome visitor to the group, with his ideas ready to flatten the pompous Mark. My initial hope was that, alongside his Brother, he would inject a bit of verve and vigour into the village as a whole. Was Antony holding a bit of a flame for Ruth? He certainly seemed to spend an inordinate amount of time in the inadequate sounding library!

Barney is a real character, and I would say an asset to Jeannie’s cider farm – full of good ideas to increase revenue. I liked him a lot. Violet, Jeannie’s Mother is a consummate joker, and isn’t backwards in coming forward to give advice to others. I think I liked her, but did wonder if she might be predisposed to make trouble, either through sheer boredom, or just by getting the ‘wrong end of the stick’. She was most certainly adept at the classic ‘game’ of Chinese Whispers.

A book club / twinning trip to France with the group sounded an absolute hoot! What could possibly go wrong! Each member of the group was very much in need of a holiday, albeit for very different reasons. I found myself desperately wanting them all to get what they went for, but feared they would not.

Jeannie had been toying with the idea of selling up the cider farm – but would her passion be reignited by the ideas she garnered in France? What all the friends seemed to find in France was contentment.

This book had its funny moments that had me roaring with laughter, for example the sand yachting trip, and especially Aurora’s experience!

Of the friends, who will want to go back to their life exactly as it was? Indeed, even if they wanted to go back to how things were, whose life might be changed due to circumstances beyond their control? Regardless, a good thing that seemed to come from the French trip, was a sense of almost sisterhood, between the book club friends (amongst the women that is). A reciprocal exchange trip, with the French cider farmers coming over for Apple Day, was sure to offer fun and surprises. Amelie and Bruno certainly proved themselves ‘a hit’ as far as French exchange visitors go, although tension did rear it’d head with Jeannie, Barney and Bruno together in the same room!

Can Mark and Verity resolve their issues?

Will Jeannie retire and will she take a love interest?

Will Aurora reunite with and stop hiding from her past?

Can Barney bring himself to retire?

Will Ruth come out of her shell and get the romance she seems to crave?

Will Danielle find something new to do with her life?

To find out these answers and more, you will just need to read this fabulous book for yourself. I was really taken with it, about how everything is seasonal and lives and dies; how the apples go through their stages from blossom to harvest, and the cider has its own lifecycle. Alongside this, we have our own lifecycle, and choices to make, legacies to leave, memories to treasure.

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2 thoughts on “The Golden Oldies’ Book Club – Judy Leigh

  1. Thanks for this fabulous review. You’ve no idea how satisfying it is when a reviewer ‘gets’ a book. ‘…the cider has its own lifecycle. Alongside this, we have our own lifecycle, and choices to make…’ You’ve got it in one. With very best wishes for a lovely Christmas and a special 2023. xx


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