No! I Don't Need Reading Glasses! by Virginia Ironside

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No! I Don't Need Reading Glasses! by Virginia Ironside

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Category: Women's Fiction
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Ani Johnson
Reviewed by Ani Johnson
Summary: I once thought I was Bridget Jones and now I want to be Marie Sharp: funny, sensible, poignant, life-affirming, entertaining and oh so human. A novel that's so good, it should be available on the NHS.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 384 Date: January 2013
Publisher: Quercus
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1780878584

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Marie is enjoying the sort of hectic retirement that makes her wonder how she found the time to work. However, not everything is rosy. Her son and daughter-in-law are thinking about moving abroad, taking Marie's beloved grandson, Gene. Meanwhile, Marie's partner, Archie, is becoming worryingly forgetful. On top of this, the derelict patch of 'park' at the top of the road may be replaced by a hotel. It's amazing how attractive it's seemed to become once it's under threat. But 'attractive' isn't the word that comes to mind when describing the resulting action group. Thank goodness there are always wine and good friends.

As a child, I could spot a retired woman a mile off. They generally sported a poodle-like perm (often tinted pale blue) and wore a dress made from man-made fibre suspiciously resembling old curtains. Time moves on. Now, half a century later (can you see me wincing?) the 60s generation has reached the age of sagacity and, if agony-aunt-cum-author Virginia Ironside's book is the fruit, I for one am grateful.

We first met Marie in Virginia Ironside's No! I Don't Want to Join a Reading Club and both author and character remain on top form. Marie's sharp, funny and, in many ways, just like us. She tells us her own story via a diary, allowing us to hear the inner monologue that most of us keep hidden. You know – the one that muses on leaving a saucer of milk and bag of crisps out for a passing beetle.

The author also deals with real issues, respecting the worries that emanate from them whilst subtly educating and entertaining. We can't fail to be touched by Archie's slide into dementia while smiling at him sitting on an ornamental lion in his pyjamas. As the child of a mentally ill parent, I can vouch that there are always funny moments among the difficult and here these are captured beautifully without destroying Archie's dignity. Humour is always applied in the correct doses. Trust me; wind chimes have never been so funny!

Ms Ironside isn't only talented in her presentation of the chronologically mature. Little grandson Gene is a typical little boy. We made you some peppermint creams and I saved one for you. We fully understand Marie's attachment to him since the chances are that we'll develop one too. As for the anti-hotel park action group, they're a wonderful hotchpotch of the disparate souls that Marie wouldn't notice normally (accidentally or deliberately) but become united by an external threat to their normality. (Even if their normality differs wildly from ours or Marie's)

I don't apologise for raving on; I laughed, I cried, I nodded in agreement. Marie Sharp is the sort of person you'd like as a best friend. Whatever mood she's in, whichever problem emerges to entrap her, whichever molar she is about to hit as her foot drifts into her mouth, there'll never be a dull moment. As it is, since Marie's fictional, we can only wait for another volume of her life and, where I'm sitting, that provides its own consolation.

If you've enjoyed this, we can heartily recommend another bittersweet touching/funny combo A is for Angelica by Iain Broome. We've also enjoyed Yes! I Can Manage, Thank You! and No, Thanks! I'm Quite Happy Standing! by Virginia Ironside. You might also enjoy Not Far From Dreamland by Val Hennessy and The Happy Ending by David Stokes.

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Buy No! I Don't Need Reading Glasses! by Virginia Ironside at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy No! I Don't Need Reading Glasses! by Virginia Ironside at Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy No! I Don't Need Reading Glasses! by Virginia Ironside at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy No! I Don't Need Reading Glasses! by Virginia Ironside at


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