Review: Sixty Summers by Amanda Hampson

Title: Sixty Summers

Author: Amanda Hampson

Published: May 1st 2019, Viking

Status: Read May 2019 – courtesy Penguin

++++++

My Thoughts:

 

Sixty Summers is a charming, astute and moving novel about friendship, love, and being true to yourself, no matter your age.

In their youth, Maggie, Rose, and Fran imagined bright futures filled with love, adventure, and success. Now, approaching their sixtieth birthdays, the three friends wonder what happened to those dreams. Maggie is overworked and under appreciated by her large family, Rose is bored, and frustrated by her needy husband, and Fran is disappointed with both her lacklustre career and love life.

Hoping to revive the spirit of joie de vivre they have lost, Maggie, Rose and Fran decide to relive a European tour they took in their early twenties. It’s a journey that will challenge and ultimately redefine who they are, and what they want.

“And here they were, forty years later. They had changed beyond recognition. And not changed at all.”

Hampson’s characterisation in Sixty Summers is thoughtful and feels authentic. Each of Hampson’s characters are unsatisfied with their lives at the outset of the trip. Fran perhaps only mildly, Rose a little more so, but Maggie is emotionally exhausted and near her breaking point. These women are closer to my mothers age than mine, yet I can empathise with each of them in some manner.

“She was struck by the horrible thought that this well-intentioned adventure could end up costing the three of them their friendship”

Despite retracing the route they took as young women, inspiring some joyful reminisces, it becomes clear that the lack of spontaneity in their comfortable itinerary is stifling the experience they hoped for, and Hampson thoughtfully portrays the women’s increasing frustration with the situation, and each other.

“So the upshot of this disaster is that it’s cheered us all up..”

An impulsive purchase, a theft, a near death experience, and a long held secret one of the women is keeping, all eventually conspire to throw their carefully planned schedule off track. Circumstances finally allows Maggie and Rose some freedom from their family’s transatlantic interruptions, so when they reach the Grecian Coast they are all ready to take a risk and be honest with each other, and themselves.

“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 changed in ways even they couldn’t yet know.”

While I enjoyed the vicarious tour of Europe, visiting Paris, Berlin, Prague, Vienna, through Italy and over to Greece, richly described by the author, (and whose real life tour is FEATURED HERE on Book’d Out), it’s really the emotional journey’s of Hampson’s characters that kept me engrossed in this novel.

In Sixty Summers, Hampson reminds us that the ‘third act’ need not be the final act, change is still possible, though it will take honesty and courage.

 

Read an Extract

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Available to purchase via the publisher at Penguin AU

Or choose your preferred retailer via Booko

4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Theresa Smith Writes
    May 08, 2019 @ 16:04:41

    I’m reading this one at the moment and I have to admit, I’ve considered abandoning it several times. I like the travel aspect, particularly the differences between places from when they first visited and then now, but I don’t like the women at all. I can’t quite put my finger on why, but I just don’t care about them.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  2. Trackback: Weekend Cooking: ‘Sixty Summers’ in Six Dishes from Amanda Hampson | book'd out
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