A Grand Old Time by Judy Leigh


Originally published: 3 May 2018

Author: Judy Leigh

Set in: Dublin/France

Genre: Contemporary

Page count: 368

Reading dates: 7-12 May 2018

Star Rating: 3/5

75 year old Evie Gallagher is living in a retirement home after the death of her husband and is feeling like she doesn’t belong. She feels many of the residents are waiting for death and she is no where near that yet! So one day, she grabs her stuff and heads out from Sheldon Lodge for a day of adventure. However, after winning some money on a horse, she finds herself on a ferry to France. Once there she begins a journey through France, meeting many kind people along the way.

Not everyone is happy about Evie’s adventures though and her son Brandan and wife Maura decide to follow her in order to bring her home.

I loved Evie – what a great character. She is confident, sassy and brave and enjoys a drink (or several) and also likes to swear on occasion. I loved her road trip through France – it made me want to visit myself. And the people she met along the way were all lovely!
Brendan and Maura annoyed the hell out of me though – they don’t have a happy marriage and I couldn’t figure out who we were supposed to be siding with. The book speaks from Brendan’s point of view and is quite nasty about Maura, but he seems just as bad – a mummy’s boy who also seems to have given up on life (apart from fantasying about a fellow PE teacher at school). The trouble with annoying characters is that you don’t want to read about them! Some of the plot points were also a bit too obviously signposted too.

But overall I loved Evie, the feel of the book and the descriptions of France, the food and wine were very evocative. A solid 3 stars from me.

Thank you to Elke at Avon books for sending me a copy.

Other books road trips include:

  • The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson
    It all starts on the one-hundredth birthday of Allan Karlsson. Sitting quietly in his room in an old people’s home, he is waiting for the party he-never-wanted-anyway to begin. The Mayor is going to be there. The press is going to be there. But, as it turns out, Allan is not… Slowly but surely Allan climbs out of his bedroom window, into the flowerbed (in his slippers) and makes his getaway. And so begins his picaresque and unlikely journey involving criminals, several murders, a suitcase full of cash, and incompetent police. As his escapades unfold, we learn something of Allan’s earlier life in which – remarkably – he helped to make the atom bomb, became friends with American presidents, Russian tyrants, and Chinese leaders, and was a participant behind the scenes in many key events of the twentieth century.
  • The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George
    Monsieur Perdu calls himself a literary apothecary. From his floating bookstore in a barge on the Seine, he prescribes novels for the hardships of life. Using his intuitive feel for the exact book a reader needs, Perdu mends broken hearts and souls. The only person he can’t seem to heal through literature is himself; he’s still haunted by heartbreak after his great love disappeared. She left him with only a letter, which he has never opened.
    After Perdu is finally tempted to read the letter, he hauls anchor and departs on a mission to the south of France, hoping to make peace with his loss and discover the end of the story. Joined by a bestselling but blocked author and a lovelorn Italian chef, Perdu travels along the country’s rivers, dispensing his wisdom and his books, showing that the literary world can take the human soul on a journey to heal itself.
  • The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce17119855._UY200_

    Meet Harold Fry, recently retired. He lives in a small English village with his wife, Maureen, who seems irritated by almost everything he does.  Then one morning the mail arrives, with a letter addressed to Harold in a shaky scrawl from a woman he hasn’t seen or heard from in twenty years. Queenie Hennessy is in hospice and is writing to say goodbye.
    Harold pens a quick reply and, leaving Maureen to her chores, heads to the corner mailbox. Harold has a chance encounter, one that convinces him that he absolutely must deliver his message to Queenie in person. Harold Fry is determined to walk six hundred miles from Kingsbridge to the hospice in Berwick-upon-Tweed because, he believes, as long as he walks, Queenie Hennessey will live.
    Still in his yachting shoes and light coat, Harold embarks on his urgent quest across the countryside. Along the way he meets one fascinating character after another, each of whom unlocks his long-dormant spirit and sense of promise. Memories of his first dance with Maureen, his wedding day, his joy in fatherhood, come rushing back to him – allowing him to also reconcile the losses and the regrets. As for Maureen, she finds herself missing Harold for the first time in years.

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