Thursdays in the Park – Hilary Boyd

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8/10. A friendly cover with nice, chirpy colours!

Fifty-nine-year-old Jeanie Lawson has a lot of decisions to make. She’s unhappy with her marriage – her husband, George, hasn’t shared her bed for a decade – and with her life: George and her daughter Chanty are both trying to encourage Jeanie to move to the countryside, away from her beloved granddaughter Ellie and her successful health-food shop, Pomegranate. And when Ellie decides to play with a boy called Dylan one day, and Jeanie gets talking to Dylan’s grandfather Ray – a kind, warm man with piercing blue eyes – Jeanie realises just how much she loves her life in Highgate. 

As she approaches her sixtieth birthday and tensions increase between her and George (who, to Jeanie’s irritation, insists on calling her ‘old girl’ and on railroading her more and more into the countryside move), her feelings increase for Ray. Calm and sincere, he’s miles away from the emotionally-distant and controlling  George. But when Jeanie’s selfish son-in-law concocts a story that stops her seeing Ray, and Chanty twigs as to Jeanie’s feelings, things get ever more complicated.

George further adds to the confusion by dropping a bombshell that explains his ten-year absence from Jeanie’s bed and tries to return to it, becoming more like the husband she’s always wanted. Aside from the controlling and making decisions for her, of course…

Jeanie is torn in two: between Ray, who she is growing sure that she loves, and George, her companion of thirty-two years, who she simply can’t contemplate leaving. Will she put her happiness first, or her family’s? 

Whilst I didn’t always agree with Jeanie’s decisions – and found the character of her friend Rita slightly overbearing at times – I enjoyed Thursdays in the Park. It’s an enjoyable, gently life-affirming novel ideal to while away a few hours with.

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