#Review: The Highland Hens by Judy Leigh @JudyLeighWriter @BoldwoodBooks @rararesources #blogtour #publicationday #BoldwoodBloggers #ItsNeverTooLate

By | August 4, 2022

I’m delighted to be helping launch the blog tour for Judy Leigh’s latest book, The Highland Hens, and sharing my publication day review: published by Boldwood Books today (4th August), it’s now available for kindle (free via Kindle Unlimited), in paperback, and as an 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).

I’ve now reached the point where I can introduce my reviews of Judy’s wonderful books by cutting and pasting the words I used last time – one of my firm favourites, reliably producing the kind of books I so want to read, filled with older characters I can identify with so easily, her perfect blend of humour and poignancy. I’ve mentioned my personal favourites before – The Golden Girls’ Getaway (you’ll find my review of that one here), The Old Girls’ Network (you’ll find that review here), and the wonderful Lil’s Bus Trip (you’ll find my review here). But her last book, A Year of Mr Maybes, might just have been even better (review here). And it was so lovely to discover that I don’t only love her “it’s never too late” books – I really loved The Witch’s Tree (review here), the first book by her alter ego Elena Collins, and eagerly await the next.

A very special writer – so let’s see what she’s done this time…

In the imposing Glen Carrick House overlooking Scotland’s famous Loch Ness, lives eighty-eight-year-old Mimi McKinlay, cared for by her three adult sons. Hamish has inherited his mother’s musical talents, Fin is the responsible brother, and Angus has the complicated and brooding personality to match his dashing good looks.

 

But what all the brothers share is a concern that their beloved mother is living in her memories of her days on stage, while letting her present days pass her by.

 

Jess Oliver is at a turning point. Amicably divorced after years of being married, this trip to the Highlands is a first taste of independence. It isn’t long before the beauty and hospitality of Scotland captures her heart.

 

When Mimi and Jess’s paths cross, a friendship is formed that will change both women’s lives. And as together they find ways to look forward instead of to the past, long forgotten dreams are within reach, and every new day is fresh with possibilities.

 

Take a trip to the Highlands with Judy Leigh for an unforgettable story of glorious pasts and fabulous futures, of love, friendship, family and fun. The perfect feel-good novel for all fans of Dawn French, Dee Macdonald and Cathy Hopkins.

I’m sure a day will come when I don’t enthuse about a new book from Judy Leigh and declare it my new favourite – but it certainly won’t be today, because I adored every moment of this quite wonderful story. It made me laugh, it certainly made me cry, and I entirely fell in love with so many of its quite wonderful characters.

At 88, Mimi is sustained by her chardonnay-fuelled memories of her time on the London stage – she loves to wear the sequins and feathers, to practice her high kicks and put on a performance, still every inch a star. Although, in the village near Loch Ness where she now lives, there are those who doubt that her memories are real – and that she might just be an eccentric and difficult old woman. Living in the attic of Glen Carrick House, she’s lonely – and always looks forward to a visit from her flamboyant friend Isabella, with the opportunity to go out on the town, get up to mischief, drink more chardonnay, sing and dance, and regale others with her stories. And despite their advanced years, neither of them has given up on the possibility of finding love.

But Mimi is very much loved by her three sons. Fin is the sensible one, but having real problems handling the fall-out from his former marriage alongside his worries about his mother; Angus lives at Glen Carrick too, frustrated by the slowness of his recovery from a motorcycle accident, wanting to return to his globe-trotting life as a wildlife photographer; and then there’s Hamish, a writer and producer of stage musicals, who’s certainly inherited his mother’s genes and lights up every room when he visits.

Then Jess comes into their lives, answering Fin’s advertisement for a companion for his mother – newly living an independent life, on holiday in an area that she’s loved visiting, and having made some local friends, a temporary refuge and something to fill her days is just what she needs while she waits for work to be completed on her new home. And it proves to be the ideal choice for them all – she’s the perfect friend for Mimi, listening to her memories, joining her on her outings, and soon becomes an important part of their family. But she hasn’t entirely given up on the possibility of love either – and might one of the brothers be just what she’s been searching for?

The characterisation in this book is just fantastic. I absolutely adored Mimi – she’s real in every way, totally adorable, and often reminded me very much of my mum (she loved her sequins too, but her star turn was usually a routine from Saturday Night Fever rather than the Timewarp…). Jess was the one I could perhaps identify with the most – not ready to settle into retirement, open to enjoying life, perhaps searching for something undefinable to make life complete. But every single character in this book – even the minor players (and the dog) – is so wonderfully drawn, and several of them found a place in my heart as they put their pasts to rest and faced the future.

Emotionally, this book is absolute perfection – there’s a warmth to every relationship, well-handled moments of sheer joy and immense sadness, and I defy anyone not to feel deeply about some of the developments in the story. But it’s also immense fun – so much humour, laughing with its characters, enjoying so many of the tremendous set pieces. And the setting’s just fantastic too – the most wonderfully vivid descriptions of the wildness of the Highlands (and a quite magical road trip to Skye too), the detail drawn with real love and care.

I really don’t need to say “her best yet”, do I? This was one of my books of the year, wonderful in every way, a totally unforgettable experience – and one I’d recommend without reservation to others.

About the author

Judy Leigh is the bestselling author of Five French HensA 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.

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6 thoughts on “#Review: The Highland Hens by Judy Leigh @JudyLeighWriter @BoldwoodBooks @rararesources #blogtour #publicationday #BoldwoodBloggers #ItsNeverTooLate

  1. Judy Leigh

    Thank you, Anne. I read each of your wonderful words at least twice and can’t believe how nice they are.I am blessed to have your support. Sending warmest wishes, J xx

    Reply
    1. Anne Post author

      Always a pleasure Judy – and I really loved this one! xx

      Reply
    1. Anne Post author

      You’ll love it Karen! (Only two books away from reading yours now… and looking forward to it) xx

      Reply

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