Review: Away With the Penguins by Hazel Prior


Title: Away With the Penguins

Author: Hazel Prior

Published: March 19th Bantam Press

Status: Read March 2020 courtesy Bantam/Netgalley


My Thoughts:

Away With the Penguins is a charming tale of family, second chances, and well…penguins, from Hazel Prior.

“I must try to do something before it’s too late. Not just something with my money but something with my life, whatever dregs are left of it.”

Veronica McCreedy is a brusque, eccentric, and wealthy old woman who lives alone in a large house on the south west coast of Scotland, with only her ‘daily’, Eileen, and a part-time gardener for company. One evening her favourite television programme is replaced with a documentary about penguins, and inspired, Veronica makes an extraordinary decision that will change her life.

The story primarily unfolds from the point of view of Veronica, and her estranged grandson Patrick. Prior’s character development is skilful crafted, initially neither of the protagonists are particularly likeable, but as their pasts are revealed, and the story progresses, they become much more appealing characters.

Veronica’s adventures in Antarctica are delightful and poignant. The scientific team of Locket Island are rather horrified to have an octogenarian in their midst, but Veronica is unconcerned, and is determined to rise to the challenge, handbag on her arm.

Patrick is a bit of a loser, essentially unemployed and recently single, his first (second and third) contact with ‘Granny V’ does not go well, but he eventually redeems himself.

Unsurprising, Away With the Penguins includes strong messages about environmental issues, such as pollution, wildlife conversation and climate change, and of course, the importance of penguin research. I delighted in learning more about penguins, and the Adelie penguins in particular. Pip, the penguin chick that Veronica adopts, is an adorable element of the story.

An entertaining and uplifting story, Away With the Penguins is a lovely read, I finished the last page with a smile on my face, and hope in my heart.


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