Sisters Barbara and Pauline are both in their 70s, both alone, but on opposite poles in terms of relating to people. So, when Barbara has an accident and needs a place to stay, it is with real trepidation that Pauline agrees to open her home for her sister’s convalescence. Barbara spent her working life in an RAF uniform as a top secretary. Pauline was happily married and raised a daughter who now lives in New Zealand. She now has a full life as a widow in a country village, enjoying the attentions of a local farmer, taking yoga, and having a wide circle of friends. Barbara has only her memories of one man. She has locked herself away from any chance of having her heartbroken again.
Just as the sisters are getting the hang of co-living, Pauline runs into a man who appears to be homeless. Her kind nature means she simply must invite the man, Bisto Mulligan, to recover in her home, much to Barbara’s horror. The tree of life is given a good hard shake. Which way will the fruit fall?
This book is a delight from start-to-finish. Don’t question anything too deeply–it isn’t that kind of story! It’s just warm, sweet, a little funny, and very engaging. The wonderfully eccentric, but believable village residents add spice. Not expecting rural life to feature “Granny Clampet shooting beer bottles off the barbeque” is only the half of it! The “feral peril,” The Sheep Dip, and much more are here to delight anyone who comes along to Winsleigh Green. This isn’t Miss Read’s quaint village–after all they have yoga! It’s more like the village Jean and Lionel visit often in “As Time Goes By,” and just as endearing. Barbara is just enough Diana Trent from “Waiting For God” while Pauline is the good neighbor, but never precious. I swear she was written for Julie Walters! Now, put the kettle on and get out the fudge cupcakes, and keep Derek from bringing in any headless vermin.
This is the perfect book for anyone to enjoy in quarantine or by a large body of water or while watching a game of village cricket.
The Old Girls’ Network by Judy Leigh
I listened to the audio version.