About the Book:
Life is too short for compromise …
When Maggie, Fran and Rose met in their youth, they had dreams and ambitions. Forty years later, the three friends are turning sixty, each of them restless and disenchanted with their lives.
Fran works in a second-hand bookshop. Her lover, one of a long line of disappointing men, is drifting away and her future is uncertain.
Maggie married into a volatile family. Her beautiful, indulged twin daughters are causing havoc and her elderly mother-in-law has moved in and is taking charge.
Rose has been an off-sider for her hopelessly vague but academically brilliant husband and their two sons. Time is running out to find and fulfil her own ambitions.
In an attempt to recapture the sense of freedom and purpose they once possessed, they decide to retrace the steps of their 1978 backpacking trip through Europe and set off an odyssey that will test their friendship, challenge their beliefs and redefine the third age of their lives.
‘She would give anything to feel, even for a brief moment, that charge of the energy, optimism and lightness she had felt back then, a time when she believed that her life had finally begun. She’d felt free and brave and strong. This flat was her stronghold, Maggie and Rose were her family – the centre of everything. It was as if she had been trying to replicate that experience ever since; trying to find a relationship that would be everything they had been to her. How could she have known that that time would always remain the happiest, least complicated era of her life?’
I do enjoy Amanda Hampson’s novels, with their crisp and engaging prose. Sixty Summers was a bit of a challenge for me though. Overall, this is a good novel, and many readers will love it, but I just couldn’t bond with any of the characters. The generation gap was too vast, preventing me from properly becoming invested in their lives, problems, and new beginnings.
‘It’s a bit like being in a Beckett play. We’re trapped in the same conversations and, sometimes, the same conflicts we had forty years ago, with only slightly different subjects.’
I did however really enjoy the travel aspect of this story, particularly the then and now comparisons. Forty years is a long time, places change a lot. I really liked the idea of retracing a path travelled long ago, noting the changes, both for the better and the worse.
‘Anyone who saw them would assume they were three old hens on a cosy holiday, never suspecting that they had met their younger selves, witnessed their lives from a different angle, and were changed in ways even they couldn’t yet know.’
Sixty Summers is an ideal read for the armchair traveller and for those who enjoy the perspective of an older protagonist. It’s a novel that ends very well and demonstrates that you are never too old to rediscover who you are and pursue what you want.
Thanks is extended to Penguin Random House Australia for providing me with a copy of Sixty Summers for review.
About the Author:
Amanda Hampson grew up in rural New Zealand. She spent her early twenties travelling, finally settling in Australia in 1979 where she now lives in Sydney’s Northern Beaches. Writing professionally for more than 20 years, she is the author of two non-fiction books, numerous articles and novels The Olive Sisters, Two for the Road, The French Perfumer and The Yellow Villa.
Published by Penguin Random House Australia
Released on 1st May 2019