Saturday, 1 February 2014

The Dangerous Sports Euthanasia Society - Christine Coleman

  A friend passed this on to me.  She loved it.  And I found that I did too!  Whilst reading, I was reminded both of The One Hundred year old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson and The Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce, both of which have older central characters/protagonists. And I also asked myself this question.  How did The One Hundred Year Old Man who....... get to be a best seller and this one not?  Both start off in a similar way, in that the lead characters both climb out of a window in the residential homes that they live in and run off to have adventures.  Both are past retirement age.  Both want to "do more".  The former perhaps has more international appeal, the latter a rather English novel.  But so readable!

Agnes will soon be 75.  She has all her marbles, and good health.  She's also in good physical shape, having sneaked off to a keep fit class every week whilst living with her son and his new partner and family in a room that used to be the garage.  She's with her son because after the death of her vicar husband, she finds that all their savings have been invested in a totally useless cause, and there is no money at all.  It doesn't take long before Agnes becomes depressed; this affects her son's life and she is booted off to a residential home, where she lives in a beige room, having a beige life. 

She dearly misses her grandchildren, who are now in another town altogether, their mother having found a new partner.  So she never sees them, and can't talk to them either because every time she rings, there is some excuse.  What is wrong?  Are the children safe?  Are they happy?  And then, the last time she rings, there is no answer.  Agnes decides to leave home herself and ensure that her grandchildren are OK, and forms a plan of action.  And that's when her adventures start. 

The publisher, Transita, bill themselves as "Good Books for Grown Women" - that is to say, the characters are rather older than usual, and the books should appeal to women readers.... but there is no reason at all why men should not enjoy this as much.  It was easy to read - a well thought out story and although many of the reviews on Amazon with lower star ratings found the book had too many coincidences, I never saw that at all - for after all, isn't life full of them?