Thursday 25 June 2020

The Old Girls' Network - Judy Leigh || Blog Tour

Is it ever too late to change… 
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?

Funny, joyful and with a spring in its step that reminds you to live every day like it’s your last. Judy Leigh has once again written the perfect feel-good novel for all fans of Dawn French, Dee MacDonald and Cathy Hopkins.

What a wonderfully funny, and joyous read this was. I usually read books with perhaps slightly younger leading ladies, its not something ive consciously ever done it just seems to be that way and this was a breathe of fresh air. It had all the things i love in a book - a little village community, fun characters and wonderful sounding food.

We meet Barbara who has just had an accident and needs to rest, her blood pressure is high and she needs to take life a little bit easier. Pauline, is a widow having lost her husband but has a busy social life, last time her sister stayed was not an enjoyable experience, but she vows to tell her if she oversteps the mark. As the pair begrudgingly settle into a routine, Pauline knocks over a man called Bisto, he looks a bit down and out but been the kind hearted woman she is - she takes him in to help him mend.

Bisto is the glue that could bring the sisters together, as the summer goes on we see the trio all come into their own and find new friendships, a little bit of love and the importance of family. This was honestly a lovely lovely read. The characters were laugh out loud funny, they were warm and friendly and you would certainly want to sample some of the fudge cakes with the trio. Barbara and Pauline are so different on first impressions that you wonder how their upbringing could have impacted them, but as we spend time with them, we discover more about their lives over the years and how that has shaped the people they have become. 
In fact, i loved the community as a whole and i feel like we got to spend sufficient time with alot of members of it and discover alot about their lives too. 

This was a refreshing, funny and joyful read that really does warm the soul. It proves we can find love in all places at all ages.We are never too old to change and discover who we are. I was gifted an e-arc for the blog tour but this does not impact my review.
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A gust of wind swirled the grass of her front lawn and she saw Derek decapitating a sparrow. She closed the door with a clunk and wondered if Len was right, if the weather would change. It was almost midday. She’d hoover the lounge, lay a fire for later and perhaps she’d have a little snooze in the afternoon. The phone started to trill in the kitchen. Pauline disliked phone calls; it usually meant that she had to do something she didn’t want, or talk to someone she’d rather not. It might be the surgery reminding her about a routine appointment; double glazing salespeople; life insurance. And she’d heard stories about all these scammers. She breathed into the receiver.
Barbara’s voice boomed back. ‘I’m coming to visit, Pauline. The day after tomorrow. There’s nothing wrong with me but I’ve been in hospital and they’ve told me to take it easy so I’m coming to you for a rest.’
Pauline frowned. ‘Well I’m not sure you’d like…’
The train arrives on Thursday at one thirty. Of course, it doesn’t come as far as Winsley Green because you haven’t got a station there, so you’ll have to pick me up in Taunton. One thirty sharp.’
But how long will you stay? I’ll have to get the spare room ready and do some shopping. I haven’t got any vegetables in…’
Oh, never mind about that.’ Barbara’s tone was irritable. ‘Just be there. I’ve no idea how long I’ll be staying. The woman next door will keep an eye on my little place.’ There was a pause and when her voice returned to the earpiece, Barbara sounded strangely cheerful. ‘I’m actually looking forward to the break. Do you know, Pauline, we might even enjoy ourselves.’
Pauline pulled a face: she wasn’t sure. She could imagine Barbara in Douglas’ favourite chair in the lounge, her feet up, sipping the Christmas sherry while Pauline rushed around obeying orders.
That’s settled then. Thursday, Taunton station. Don’t be late.’
Pauline wondered if her sister was pausing to smile or to clench her teeth, then she heard her add, ‘There’s a dear girl. Goodbye.’
Pauline put the phone back softly into its cradle and stood still for a moment. She wondered what the next few days would bring. Barbara was coming to stay, and she had no idea for how long. She breathed in, pushed back her shoulders and tried a smile. It might be nice seeing Barbara again; it would certainly be pleasant to have another person in the house, another voice. But Barbara could be quite difficult.
Pauline considered for a moment and resolved to be positive. They were sisters, after all, both in their seventies now: it was about time she tried again to close the gulf between them: Barbara couldn’t do it. She was by nature a little prickly and Pauline thought it might be the right thing to do, to try to connect. They were the only local family either of them had now, after all, Jessica being so far away.
The word family made Pauline frown thoughtfully. Most sisters usually had something in common; there was usually an opinion they shared, a hobby, a memory. But not Pauline and Barbara. They couldn’t be more different. It would be an interesting challenge though, to try to befriend her unfriendly sister.
Pauline moved to the sink and began to dry her teacup. She stared out of the window at the bleak grey sky. Len had been right – there would be ice, cold in the air, even a storm coming. Pauline expected the worst.

Judy Leigh is the bestselling author of Five French Hens, A Grand Old Time and The Age of Misadventure and the doyenne of the ‘it’s never too late’ genre of women’s fiction. She has lived all over the UK from Liverpool to Cornwall, but currently resides in Somerset.

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