Pru is on her own. But then, so are plenty of other people. And while the loneliness can be overwhelming, surely she’ll find a party somewhere?
Pru’s husband has walked out, leaving her alone to contemplate her future. She’s missing not so much him, but the life they once had – picnicking on the beach with small children, laughing together, nestling up like spoons in the cutlery drawer as they sleep. Now there’s just a dip on one side of the bed and no-one to fill it.
In a daze, Pru goes off to a friend’s funeral. Usual old hymns, words of praise and a eulogy but…it doesn’t sound like the friend Pru knew. And it isn’t. She’s gone to the wrong service. Everyone was very welcoming, it was – oddly – a laugh, and more excitement than she’s had for ages. So she buys a little black dress in a charity shop and thinks, now I’m all set, why not go to another? I mean, people don’t want to make a scene at a funeral, do they? No-one will challenge her – and what harm can it do?
I could totally identify with Pru. I like to think I’m a strong, independent woman, but if I found myself in her position, I feel I would be the same. Slobbing about the house, while the dust collects on the kitchen work surface (I’ll be living on microwave meals and cheese and crackers if I can be bothered to spread the butter), while the weeds grow waist high in the untended garden.
Because Pru’s husband of decades, the father of her children, had gone off to find himself on a spiritual journey, as you do in a middle aged, mid-life crisis. Except that Pru and Greg are not middle aged anymore – they are really in their twilight years, knocking seventy, not forty. He could have just bought a motorbike and a leather jacket or gone brum brum round the garden.
Then one day Pru goes to a funeral only to find it’s the wrong one, but it gives her an idea. She buys a little black dress from a charity shop and goes to another and another on the lookout for a grieving widower. It’s not such a bad idea and no-one is going to call her out. After all, there are always strangers at funerals – people the deceased knew in their childhood or university days that no-one else knows. It becomes exciting and a little bit naughty, but it’s not doing any harm, is it?
We, the readers, and Pru meet some brilliant, eccentric, unusual and frankly bat-shit crazy characters along the way and there are a number of twists that I didn’t expect, making this more than just a humorous story of looking for love in the third age.
I loved this book. I read it two sessions and it has shot straight into my favourite books of 2021 Part Three. It’s very different from the usual feel-good novels because of the dark twists.
Many thanks to @annecater for inviting me to be part of #RandomThingsTours and to NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
About the Author
Deborah Moggach, OBE, is a British novelist and an award-winning screenwriter. She
has written twenty novels, including Tulip Fever, These Foolish Things (which became the bestselling novel and film The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel), and The Carer. She lives in London.