Book Reviews

Book Review ~ Away with the Penguins by Hazel Prior

“And, like a window opening to sunlight and fresh summer air, it is there. My youth: tender, vivid, spread out before me. And even though I know it will hurt me three times cover, I can’t help but read on.”

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Plot (From Goodreads)

Veronica McCreedy is about to have the journey of a lifetime . . .

Veronica McCreedy lives in a mansion by the sea. She loves a nice cup of Darjeeling tea whilst watching a good wildlife documentary. And she’s never seen without her ruby-red lipstick.

Although these days Veronica is rarely seen by anyone because, at 85, her days are spent mostly at home, alone.

She can be found either collecting litter from the beach (‘people who litter the countryside should be shot’), trying to locate her glasses (‘someone must have moved them’) or shouting
instructions to her assistant, Eileen (‘Eileen, door!’).

Veronica doesn’t have family or friends nearby. Not that she knows about, anyway . . . And she has no idea where she’s going to leave her considerable wealth when she dies.

But today . . . today Veronica is going to make a decision that will change all of this.

My Thoughts

I can’t even begin to put into words how much I loved this gorgeous book! I was instantly drawn in by Veronica’s eccentric and stern character. If I was to meet her in person I may well have felt differently, but she endeared herself to me with her routines and her outlook on life and the world. She starts out more or less thinking the worst of people, alluding to a tough past that may have contributed to her severe nature. But there’s also a determination, a strength, and a steadfastness to her that it truly admirable. She keeps herself to herself, and everything has to be just so, which causes a headache for her housekeeper Eileen!

As Veronica goes off on her adventure and witnesses new sights, I was smiling despite myself, feeling her joy radiating from the pages. Despite the harsh temperatures and unforgiving landscape of the Antarctic she doesn’t let a small thing like being eighty-five get in her way. She’s as determined as ever, never letting her aged limbs stop her from embarking on the adventure of a lifetime. What I wouldn’t give to be by her side in that beautiful landscape, surrounded by such vivacious and determined creatures. I think Veronica saw herself in those little penguins; determination and strength of spirit being something that they both share.

I’ve read a lot of amazing books this year; and this is right there at the very top. I devoured this beautiful story on my day off, only dragging myself away for an hour when I had to go out, and finished the last few chapters the very next day. I was desperate to see how Veronica’s story ended, but also full of sadness that I’d finished it.

(This book is also known as How the Penguins saved Veronica)

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