Book talk: love and friendships


Jeff Popple reviews an engaging tale of love and friendships. More of Jeff’s reviews can be found on his blog:

Sixty Summers by Amanda Hampson

Viking, $32.99

In 1978, Maggie, Fran and Rose left Australia for London and a kombi van trip around Europe. It was a great time and the start of what they hoped to be a succession of interesting experiences for the rest of their lives. Now the three of them are about to turn 60 and each has a growing sense of dissatisfaction with their lives, as well as a feeling that time is running out for them to fulfil their own expectations.

On the spur of the moment, the three decide to retrace their earlier trip and go travelling around Europe. It is a chance to rediscover the places they had visited, test their friendship and redefine themselves. What could possibly go wrong?

Sixty Summersis an enjoyable read that explores our perceptions of the past and how life is a succession of compromises. Through her characters, Amanda Hampson asks interesting questions about how we got to where we are now, and why it is important to keep seeking new challenges and opportunities. Her central characters are engaging, and the arcs of their lives make for interesting reading.

Hampson is a capable and witty writer, although she sometimes has the tendency to unload a lot of background information in a single go, rather than illustrating her characters’ pasts through suggestive vignettes. The descriptions of Europe in 1978, and now, are evocative and she nicely captures the different rhythm of travel when you are older.

In all, Sixty Summers is a captivating and interesting read that will make you reflect on your life.

Sixty Summersis part of Penguin Random House’s growing of stable of romance novels and comes with possible discussion questions at the end. It would make for lively discussion at a book club. There is also a Facebook group, PRHLoveBetweenthePages, to facilitate discussion on Sixty Summers and other titles.

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