Lee and Victoria weren’t the only ones to love The Great Escape From Woodlands Nursing Home by Joanne Nell… Here is what the QBD crew thought:
Everybody has to grow old and face their mortality at some stage – that’s one of the irrefutable facts of life – but even at nearly 90-years-old retired nature writer Hattie Bloom is completely unprepared for the new challenges she’s confronted by when a nasty fall finds her a reluctant new resident of Woodlands Nursing Home.
Hattie’s something of an introvert – much preferring the company of animals of all persuasions (but especially her beloved Powerful Owls) to that of her own species – and she finds this sudden loss of independence and privacy both invasive and dehumanising.
Hattie first meets the gregarious and outgoing Walter Clements when he runs into her on his mobility scooter trying to flee to the local bottle shop, and even when they’re introduced properly – via a chance meeting at a gathering of the Night Owls, the secret society for insomniacs run by Sister Bronwyn and her black Labrador, Queenie – the two at first seem unlikely allies, but we soon find that despite their different personalities and worldview they actually have a lot in common as people (plus, of course, their shared desire to break free from the dreaded confines of the hospice that’s keeping them together).
The English-born, Sydney-based author Joanna Nell has both a background conducive to empathy for the elderly – having studied medicine at Cambridge and Oxford universities she remains a practising GP – but now a growing back catalogue of sympathetic stories as well, with her first two novels The Single Ladies Of Jacaranda Retirement Village (2018) and The Last Voyage of Mrs Henry Parker (2019) both national best-sellers.
You don’t need to be long in the tooth yourself to enjoy these poignant and humorous tales of young-at-heart characters rewriting societal conventions and living life to its fullest, as they provide a truly universal inspiration for readers of all age brackets.