Caterer Claire is fed up being taken for granted by her husband, son and daughter-in-law. Ballbuster businesswoman Angela has lost control of her own company. Flamboyant interior designer Sylvie has discovered her husband is having an affair with the intern, while librarian Monica needs to escape her overbearing mother. The four women end up staying together in a mutual associate’s villa in Italy, where their eyes are turned by the flirtatious men and the stunning scenery. But it seems they are unable to escape the people from back home for long.
This story revolves around a group of sixty-something women, all with their own issues and hang-ups, all needing to have a break from their lives. The scenery is a star of the book - from the luxurious villa and lemon groves, to the coastal villages and their hair-raising roads. It just goes to show: when life serves you lemons, you make an aperitif to enjoy on a glorious holiday in the sun.
Grandmother of two Stella lives a modest life in suburbia, with husband Matthew, making a living by painting pet portraits. It’s a long way from her youth in the heady days of the 1960s. But when past flame and music icon Cameron Keene rocks back into her life, her quiet, comfortable world gets all shook up.
Pointing the lens on the older generation, Maeve Haran shows that there’s life in these old bones yet but also that they too were young. There’s some great personalities in here, and whilst the central characters are in the upper age ranges, Haran covers the whole spectrum, and it is perhaps teen grandson Jesse who steals the show. Indeed, his relationship with his grandmother is a beautiful testament to this special bond. And Stella herself is a character who feels completely real. Add to that, three (yes, three) male love interests, two of Cameron’s wives, and a feisty Argentinian mother-in-law, oh and a dog in socks, and you’ve got a veritable feast of fun. Aside from his early entrance, Cameron is a bit absent – he has a UK tour to see to after all – and when Jesse goes missing, it’s not quite the urgent search and rescue you might expect. But that aside, it’s an uplifting, humorous yarn that rattles along at a fair old pace, showing there’s more to the older generation than meets the eye. (JC)