It's difficult for me to laugh and think at the same time, particularly when I'm laughing so hard I have to reach for the tissue. But I managed all the way through my consumption of Virginia Ironside's fictional diary of Marie Sharp's journey through her sixtieth year (and a bit).
Marie's not fighting it, rather she is planning to embrace it. She'd love to "start doing old things," if people would only let her. Hence the name of the book. It's not only a book club she doesn't want to join, she doesn't want to learn Spanish or any other language, she doesn't want to take exotic trips... Leave her alone!
And she doesn't want to look, act, or be young. She is not "sixty going on twenty." (No Botox here, I'd hazard.) It's not that she didn't enjoy being young, not by any means. She even slept with a Beatle! "Been there, got the T-shirt, wore it to death and put it in a bag for Age Concern." She's ready for this new adventure.
An adventure it turns out to be. She learns new loves—a new grandson and a more romantic relationship. She relishes and enlarges friendships while bidding others goodbye. After Penny, her best friend, hears Marie's report on yet another funeral, she comments, "Now we just have to make do with the people who are left." Certainly, enough people are left to keep Marie doing "old things" for some time.
Ironside, who has spent a career as an "agony aunt," writing advice columns for English newspapers, has a keen insight into the human (old woman) condition and the talent to leaven it with plenty of English humor. Any appreciator of good, humorous writing will enjoy this book. Ironside's contemporaries (of whom I am one) will relish it.
Virginia Ironside is one prolific writer. Her first book, Chelsea Bird, came out when she was nineteen. Now she's sixty-three. She's written many books and for years has been an "agony aunt" advice columnist for several English newspapers. She lives and writes in London. You can visit her and learn more at her website.
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