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?
What I Thought:
I’ve got a few Judy Leigh books on my Kindle, but this is the first one I’ve read – I’ll definitely be fitting in the other this summer, as The Old Girls’ Network was a really lovely!
I wasn’t sure what to make of it at first, as Barbara is really not a likeable character initially. It would be so easy to write her off as a caricature of a grumpy old lady, but I really liked the development of her character throughout the book. They say there are reasons that we all are the way we are, and this is clearly explained in Barbara’s case.
The village of Winsleigh Green is a perfect, rural village, where everyone knows everyone else’s business but nothing is really meant in an unkind way. Pauline – despite her sister’s opinion of her – is a central figure in the village and her large circle of friends and acquaintances work their magic on Barbara the longer she stays there.
The relationship between the sisters, though frosty at the beginning, develops into something much more close, and it’s lovely to see – as it is also lovely to see older characters as people in their own right, instead of supporting characters for a much younger main cast! Although I’m not Barbara and Pauline’s age quite yet, I do feel more and more in the books I read that characters of my age and above cease to be the main focus and fall into the background – perhaps I need to read more books like this??
I would thoroughly recommend The Old Girls’ Network as it’s funny – particularly the two neighbours fighting over the cats – and it’s the perfect antidote to our current world situation! Pure escapism for a few hours…
The Old Girls’ Network is published by Boldwood Books.
This post is part of a blog tour to celebrate the release of The Old Girls’ Network. Do keep an eye out on the blogs below for exclusive content and reviews.
Please note; I received a copy of this book for review via Netgalley. All opinions are, as ever, my own.