When you first start to read this book you will think it's all about Millie, who got left behind in the ladies underwear department by her Mum. Well... it is, and then again it isn't. Because there's also Agatha, who hasn't left her home since her husband died some years ago, and Karl, who has been dumped in a residential home because his daughter-in-law doesn't want him "... to die in my home". How they are connected, and how that connection helps all of them is the story in the book. The publishers compared this book with Harold Fry, or The hundred year old man who climbed out of the window, etc etc etc, but this book is like none of those. I loved Millie straight off. A sensible child who, rather than tell someone she has been left, writes notes for her Mum to find her straight away when she comes back. When she comes across Karl, (in his late eighties and greiving for the loss of being "A Man"), and when both of them get together with Agatha something very odd and kind of magical happens, and you find yourself cheering them on.
I felt for both the elderly Karl, with too much ear hair and not enough head hair, and for Agatha, who had never loved anyone really and I wanted to know why. And Millie? I just desperately wanted her to find her Mum and be alright. The descriptions of how Karl and Agatha feel about the aging process is just perfect..... and it had never occured to me that men actually do get to the point where they have to admit they are never going to have sex again, and how sad they feel about it (or certainly Karl does). Agatha? She's never enjoyed sex in her life, so perhaps the aging process for her is just something to be dealt with because she doesn't need and never did need sex so why worry when it's all over?
And the end of the book, just half a page, is just right. Not mawkish and manipulative, so no tears in the eyes, but a perfect, perfect finish to a lovely read.
Publication date 29 January 2015