Tuesday 30 October 2018

Book Review: The Single Ladies of Jacaranda Retirement Village by Joanna Nell

Title: The Single Ladies of Jacaranda Retirement Village
Author: Joanna Nell
Publisher: Hachette Australia 
Publication Date: 25th September 2018
RRP: $29.99
Format Read: Trade Paperback
Source: Courtesy of  Publisher 

 A moving, funny, heartwarming tale of love and friendship, for anyone who loved The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, The Keeper of Lost Things and Three Things about Elsie.

It's never too late to grow old disgracefully ...

The life of 79-year-old pensioner Peggy Smart is as beige as the dΓ©cor 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. Can she channel her 'inner Helen Mirren' and find love and friendship in her twilight years?

I was quite torn by this book. It was funny and entertaining but I also found it easy to put down. I was easily distracted by other things and it ended up taking me a week to read. I wasn’t drawn into the story or the characters, just a mere bystander.

I couldn’t relate to Peggy, a frail 79 year old. My mother at 80 and my mother-in-law at 89 are both active, vibrant and extremely self reliant people.

I really enjoyed the politics of the retirement village which elicited quite a few giggles and Peggy’s crush on Brian was sweet and this was one plot line I was eager to see through to the finish.

At times I felt quite saddened by Peggy’s circumstances and her inner thoughts and at other times she had me in fits of laughter.

Nell covers many women’s health issues in a humorous, but never demeaning, way.

Peggy’s constant thoughts of “looking after” Brian, ironing his clothes, cooking his meals had me rolling my eyes and wondering if Peggy really wanted to gain any independence.

The introduction of Angie, Peggy’s best friend from school days, was a breath of fresh air; at last salvation. Angie had lived a wild, crazy life and the two hadn’t seen each other for 50 years but they instantly reconnected, old friendships are like that. I loved Angie....and then I didn’t! You will have to read the book to find out why.

Even though I struggled to love this book I would suggest you read it if you have an ageing parent, you may learn some empathy, or if you are approaching the retirement home stage, you will learn to speak up, play up and never stop having fun.

My rating 3/5                 🌟🌟🌟 

Photo courtesy of Goodreads
Joanna Nell was born in the UK and studied medicine at Cambridge and Oxford universities. Her short fiction has won multiple awards and has been published in various journals and literary anthologies. 

As a GP with a passion for women's health and care of the elderly, Joanna is drawn to writing character-driven stories for women in their prime, creating young-at-heart characters who are not afraid to break the rules and defy society's expectations of ageing. 

Joanna lives on Sydney's Northern Beaches with her husband and two teenage children.  



  1. I finished this book a few days ago and I absolutely adored it.

    I lost my Mum when she was 80 and she had health issues but still lived at home with Dad.

    I could relate to Peggy and the other residents as I remember how my Grandma was at that age, as well as other relatives.

    I came to love all the characters and laughed and cried along with them.

    This was the second book of Joanna's that I have read. The first was Mrs Winterbottom Takes A Gap Year which I thoroughly enjoyed as well.

    Hope you had a wonderful Christmas and enjoy a safe New Year.

    1. I'm so glad you loved it Maree. I like that Joanna has older characters in her novels and they are always out for a bit of mischief and fun. I gave it to my mum to read and she enjoyed it too. I must get Mrs Winterbottom, I'm sure I would enjoy it.