The Single Ladies of Jacaranda Retirement Village is a heartwarming story about getting old that brings to life the widely held belief that age really is just number. This book was the perfect fit for my 2019 goal of reading more books that don’t sit within my usual reading genre.
The life of 79-year-old pensioner Peggy Smart is as beige as the décor in her retirement village. Her week revolves around aqua aerobics and appointments with her doctor. The highlight of Peggy’s day is watching her neighbour Brian head out for his morning swim.
Peggy dreams of inviting the handsome widower – treasurer of the Residents’ Committee and one of the few eligible men in the village – to an intimate dinner. But why would an educated man like Brian, a chartered accountant no less, look twice at Peggy? As a woman of a certain age, she fears she has become invisible, even to men in their eighties.
But a chance encounter with an old school friend she hasn’t seen in five decades – the glamorous fashionista Angie Valentine – sets Peggy on an unexpected journey of self-discovery.
You might look at the description of this book and think, nah, this doesn’t seem relevant to me. But before you rule this out of your tbr pile, think on this; do you have a parent, grandparent, neighbour, friend, any relationship with someone that is entering their later years in life? Even if you don’t, aren’t you right now in the process of aging? If the answer is yes, you should read The Single Ladies of Jacaranda Retirement Village, not least because it will change how you view life through the lens of aging loved ones. There is no rule that dictates that as we age, we should cast aside everything that makes us human; love, excitement, relationships, whatever it is that makes a person feel alive, there is no time limit on these emotions. So don’t allow society to put one there. This is a key underlying message of the book.
Very slowly, Peggy’s eyes rose to meet her reflection in the mirror. Accustoomed to the years of disappointment, what she saw took her breath away. Instead of a pensior camouflaged in fifty shades of beige, she saw and elegant, mature woman with a figure.
Despite this underlying theme, which you would mistakenly assume is a dry and boring subject matter; this is a story filled with humour that triggered literal laugh out loud moments for me. Everyone needs an Angie Valentine in their lives, no matter your age. A person that can help you see that conforming to societal expectations, is no way to live your life. There’s a valuable life lesson in this story for everyone that allows themselves to be held back by the scathing opinions of others and the impact these can have on self-confidence and self-esteem.
‘Christ alive’, said Angie. ‘You stay here and fill in the forms. I’m off to find the bar.’
The Single Ladies of Jacaranda Retirement Village is an ode to life as it should be lived, whatever stage you are at on your journey; with passion, intensity, and determination we should suck every last bit of enjoyment from every moment. Despite the cliches, life is short, so make sure it is the one you want.
The Single Ladies of Jacaranda Retirement Village is a 5 star read in my view. Any book that causes me to shoot tea down my nose due to pure laugh out loud moments, is deserving of such a rating.
About the author
Joanna is a multi-award winning short story writer. She writes character-driven stories of self-discovery for women of a certain age, by creating young-at-heart characters who are not afraid to break the rules and defy society’s expectations. She lives in Sydney, Australia where she works as a GP with a passion for women’s health and care of the elderly. She lives with her husband and two teenage children.