It’s a delight today to be helping launch the blog tour for Heading Over the Hill, the latest book by the wonderful Judy Leigh, and sharing my publication day review: published by Boldwood Books, it’s now available for kindle (free via Kindle Unlimited), and as a paperback and audiobook. As always, my thanks to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for the invitation and support, and to the publishers for my advance reading e-copy (provided via netgalley).
Could everyone just stop writing books for a while please? When I reviewed The Old Girls’ Network (you’ll find that review here), I really wanted to go on and read everything else that Judy had written, but I just haven’t managed to fit them in: her focus on older characters was something I was so very delighted to find, and I just adore her writing. So it’s a good job it’s not been too long to wait for a new one, eh?
Growing old disgracefully and having a grand old time…
Billy and Dawnie may be in their seventies, but that won’t stop them taking chances or starting again. Their grown-up children have families and lives of their own, so now it’s Billy and Dawnie’s turn, and a life near the sea in Devon beckons.
But the residents of Margot Street (or Maggot Street as Dawnie insists on calling it), don’t quite know what to make of their new neighbours. Billy’s loud, shiny and huge Harley Davidson looks out of place next to the safe and sensible Honda Jazz next door, and Dawnie’s never-ending range of outrageous wigs and colourful clothes, means she’s impossible to miss.
As new friendships are formed and new adventures are shared, Billy and Dawnie start winning their neighbours’ affection. And when life teaches them all a terrible lesson, the folks of Margot Street are determined to live every day as if it’s their last.
Judy Leigh returns with a soul-warming, rib-tickling, timeless tale of true love, true friendship and happy-ever-afters.
Judy Leigh really does create the most wonderful characters – and I love the fact that they’re often not the people you usually find at the centre of a story, and not only because of their age.
This is one of those wonderful ensemble pieces where you’re introduced to a cast of characters – and as casts go, it’s quite a large one – and then enjoy watching the story unfold. I do suspect that, like the neighbours, I might have been a tad worried watching the arrival of this couple in my street too – the Harley, the leathers, the drum kit being moved in, the pony-tailed bear of a man and his tiny pillion passenger with her colourful wigs and eccentric dress sense – but perhaps without quite the degree of animosity shown by the Frosts next door.
Vinnie, unlucky in love, and who lives opposite with his mother, is particularly intrigued by the petite blonde he spots on the first day who might just be the woman of his dreams: mother Dilly, with her passion for bloodthirsty movies, is just intrigued, soon won over by the gifts of home brew and the prospect of some excitement in her life. Then there’s the “feminist” couple up the street (and their wonderful small and feathered companion) who are immediately welcoming – and their new biker friends who live within easy walking distance and show just the same devotion to each other.
Through a character driven story, Billy and Dawnie search for a new home in the area that ticks all their boxes – but they also build the strongest of friendships, spread a lot of joy, and rather change the lives of their neighbours in Margot Street. There are so many themes to this book that I really don’t know where to start: there’s the obvious one about not judging by appearances and first impressions, but I think I’ll let you discover and explore the rest for yourself.
I will admit that I didn’t glide entirely smoothly into the story at the start – I did get a little lost in the background information about Dawnie’s family, and wasn’t sure if it was all going to be important to the story. It might just help others if I say that it really isn’t, other than to set the context – and it does serve as an excellent introduction to that whole complex subject of family relationships, along with the importance of living your own life and allowing your adult children to live theirs.
While this book has an obvious appeal for older readers, I can’t imagine anyone failing to enjoy it – it’s joyous and uplifting, and I just loved the character development, some of those secrets lying just below the surface, and some of the story’s twists and turns. There’s such a wonderful balance between the moments of raucous fun – the 60s disco night particularly memorable – and some considerably more thoughtful moments, and (as I’d rather expected) the whole story is superbly told.
This was another really excellent book from Judy Leigh – I might have been just a tad worried about Billy and Dawnie when they landed in Margot Street, but by the time they’d won over the neighbours and spread their love far and wide, I entirely adored them. This was a book to bring a real smile to your face, a celebration of life and its special moments – recommended to all.
About the author
Judy Leigh is the bestselling author of Five French Hens, A Grand Old Time and The Age of Misadventure and the doyenne of the ‘it’s never too late’ genre of women’s fiction. She has lived all over the UK from Liverpool to Cornwall, but currently resides in Somerset.