Newest Review: ... grandchildren in the play park every Thursday. Ray is George's age but different from him in every way; Ray is kind, active and attractiv... more
Thursdays in the Park - Hilary Boyd
Member Name: dee778
Thursdays in the Park - Hilary Boyd
Advantages: Realistic and engaging characters
Disadvantages: May not appeal to younger readers
~~ Plot ~~
Jeanie is 59 and just about to turn 60. Her life is calm and comfortable, with her husband George retired and pottering around with the clocks that are his hobby; a large house in central London and the beloved Healthfood shop that she runs on her own. She has been married to George for over 30 years and is happy with her lot, despite the sadness that always sits at the back of her mind. George has refused a sexual relationship with Jeanie for nearly a decade... but Jeanie comforts herself with the thought that many couples in the autumn of their lives accept this as the status quo. Instead, Jeanie spends her energies in running the shop and taking care of her "adorable" grand-daughter Ellie.
It is only when she bumps into another grandparent at the park that Jeannie starts to question her lot in life. She chats with Ray every week as each of them look after their respective grandchildren in the play park every Thursday. Ray is George's age but different from him in every way; Ray is kind, active and attractive - and he is clearly very attracted to Jeanie. Should Jeanie remain loyal to the man who has supported her for the past 30 years, or should she follow her instincts and find happiness with all of the excitement and adventure that Ray has to offer?
As we follow Jeanie's struggle between loyalty and love, the reader also starts to comprehend the undercurrents that run through Jeanie's life; the real reason that George left the marital bed all those years ago; the truth about her daughter Chanty's marriage; and the dilemmas that Jeanie herself has to face about becoming an OAP and accepting retirement.
~~ Opinion ~~
Hilary Boyd has written a real page-turner here, and I can see why Thursdays in the Park has topped the best-seller list for so long. It is a relief to read about characters that are not uniformly young, sexy and successful. Boyd's characters are comfortingly real: Jeanie is no gym goddess, but has lumpy thighs with cellulite; George is described as sometimes smelling stale and like an old man. There is no glamour here, but a very vivid description of real life and the dilemmas of getting older.
The character of Jeanie is particularly engaging; her guilt and self-doubt about the physical side of her relationship; the feelings she has about being an OAP and being repeatedly called 'Old Girl' by her husband; the sense of history and loyalty that she has after so many years of shared memories with George. All of this is beautifully and accurately described, until the reader is almost begging her to be a bit selfish and do what is best for HER for a change.
The other characters are also very well drawn, especially her son-in-law Alex who almost had me shouting at my Kindle. Alex is a sensitive artist who fails to take any responsibility in life and really does not deserve the unquestioning love that Jeanie's daughter Chanty has for him.
Perhaps the weakest character for me was the love interest ,Ray. Ray seems a little too perfect in this otherwise realistic portrayal. Ray is physically beautiful as an Akido teacher; he is humorous, sensitive and patient. A little too perfect and synthetic perhaps. The controversy in the book comes in Ray and Jeanie's strong sexual attraction. In a world where sex is all around us, thrust in our faces (so to speak) by the young, it seems almost scandalous to acknowledge that the over sixties can enjoy a teenage style sexual obsession. Ray's biggest attraction seems to be his sexuality - he is not rich, he is not exceptionally intelligent - but he does have what is described as a magnificent body, a wonderful seduction technique and pretty good sexual prowess.
~~ Conclusion ~~
Thursdays in the Park had me hooked from the start; I found the characters realistic and engaging and I found myself caring what happened to them, empathising with their thoughts and dilemmas. The plot is simple but really does get you obsessively turning pages. I would recommend this as a light read for people of any age - but I do think that more mature readers will see many echoes of their own lives, thoughts and feelings - and so would particularly recommend it for them.
This is unashamed gran-lit. It is about 'nice' middle class people and is a good yarn without getting into any serious issues. It gets 4 stars from me as an entertaining read.
Hilary Boyd is a relatively unknown writer. She is British and in her early sixties - but firmly denies any biographical elements to this book!
The success of Thursdays in the Park may primarily be because of E-book sales, where it has now sold more than 100,000 copies. Translation rights have been sold in France, Sweden, Finland and Germany and Charles Dance is negotiating to write, direct and star in the movie.
I bought my copy for Kindle for 20p but it currently sells in paperback on Amazon for £4.99
It was published by Quercus in 2012 and the paperback copy has 352 pages.
Summary: Saucy gran lit