No, Thanks! I'm Quite Happy Standing!: Marie Sharp 4 by Virginia Ironside
|No, Thanks! I'm Quite Happy Standing!: Marie Sharp 4 by Virginia Ironside|
|Category: General Fiction|
|Reviewer: Ani Johnson|
|Summary: Retired art teacher Marie is back experiencing another slice of life in middle class suburban London. The accustomed mix of mundane and off the wall provides a gentle and often touching entertainment as well as a few surprises.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 352||Date: April 2016|
|External links: Author's website|
Retired art teacher Marie Sharp is wondering whether it's time to move house to be nearer her son Jack and grandson Gene. The wondering doesn't take up all her time though. For a start there's the new, new-age lodger Robin and, talking about men, Marie is getting on really well with her ex-husband David. This single life in which they dib into each other's worlds on a regular basis seems the perfect way forward. However not all is rosy: friend Penny's drinking too much plus a holiday in India has unexpected conclusion. Oh and there's the burglaries too. Who says that retirement is relaxing and uneventful?
Agony aunt and author Virginia Ironside brings Marie and her suburban middle class posse back for a fourth outing. Again Virginia manages to make the everyday seem anything but as she mixes it with scrapes and, this time, that stand-out trip to India.
Indeed this time Marie has some third world contrasts to set her own first world problems against as she – and almost the whole neighbourhood – goes on a holiday to the sub-continent together. For Marie's part, she wants to visit her former neighbours who are living there in style which may or may not be a good thing. While visiting Marie learns a few uncomfortable truths while wandering around the streets and sites. Although Marie's retirement may be better funded than many of her diary's readers, there are moments during which we empathise thoroughly and, for me, this is one.
This is definitely the secret of Virginia's success with all four Marie Sharp novels. It doesn't matter if we're not in the same social stratum or period of life, Marie is a woman we understand perfectly whether she's trying to catch a squatter pigeon, watching her grandson become a miniature man or having to sit through a near-combustible dinner party.
As always Virginia mixes pathos and the downside of the autumnal years with the sunshine and giggle-worthy moments. I won't spoil the big shock (tissues will be required!) so we'll look to Penny's drinking as an example. Although causing mirth there's also a serious side as we share Marie's concern.
This is definitely a rich ensemble piece but not one that relies only on the familiar faces. This time we meet the hyper spiritual Robin whose heart is in the right place but he takes a little while to grow on Marie. My personal favourite of this book's new crop is odd job man Terry… warts and all.
There may be a few more lulls in this instalment than in the previous three, but once again it shows us that the dilemmas that hit us at 30, 40 and 50 may be different from those when we're 'seniors'. Indeed if Virginia's view of life through Marie is anything like what lies ahead of us, retiring from work is definitely not retiring from life.
(Thank you Quercus for providing us with a copy for review.)
Further Reading: If you haven't read any of Virginia's books, anywhere is a good place to start. My personal favourite is No! I Don't Need Reading Glasses!. If you're already a fan and would like to read a further exemplary emotional roller coaster of a senior year's novel, then we also highly recommend Elizabeth is Missing by Emma Healey.
You can read more book reviews or buy No, Thanks! I'm Quite Happy Standing!: Marie Sharp 4 by Virginia Ironside at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy No, Thanks! I'm Quite Happy Standing!: Marie Sharp 4 by Virginia Ironside at Amazon.com.
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