A Grand Old Time by Judy Leigh – Review

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By Victoria Holdsworth

This debut novel from Judy Leigh, tells a tale that will be coming to most of us in life. The story of an elderly Dublin lady called Evie, who, against her better judgement, decides she would be best placed into a care home. At 75 years of age, and a widow, she has no one left but her son and daughter in law.

The story touches upon how we look at these things from a moral standpoint, and the nuances of a society whose values are constantly questioned and changed.

Leigh’s character building skills are evident from the outset – so much so that the reader does not need much of a back story to be able to piece the past together.

When Evie, the main character, decides she is going to bust herself out of the home, she embarks on a strange and hilarious journey which is filled with excitement, sorrow, a campervan and gambling.

The author’s use of relationship dynamics between all the key protagonists is crafted in such a way that you actually come to the realise you are being told the same story about each character, but in differing time frames.

“Unexpected twists”

It is written in such an honest and refreshing way, with a natural narrative, – who says that sweet little old ladies can’t drink, swear and have tantrums – and plenty of them!

The lilt of the writing style reminds me of Ardal O’Hanlon’s Talk of The Town, written in such a way that it rolls freely through your inner monologue, and always has a sense of urgency.

A Grand Old Time is one of the most heartwarming books that I have read in a long time. It’s a genuine page turner, with some extremely laugh-out-loud funny moments, as we follow the main character through the tale to a place that is far away from Dublin.

There are some unexpected twist and turns along the way, which may also make you step back and take a long hard look at your own life.

The simple moral of the novel is on the surface; that you are never too old to do anything. However, the story goes much deeper than that, to a place where you can connect with the struggles between the relationships of family and what it is that everyone expects from them.

I have already recommended this book to people, and I have no hesitation in doing the same here. Judy Leigh is a breath of fresh literary air.

‘A Grand Old Time’ by Judy Leigh is published by Harper Collins/Avon


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