Professional experience and a healthy dose of imagination have proven a handy combination for a Sydney GP.
Joanna Nell attracted a healthy crowd when she spoke about her debut novel, The Single Ladies of Jacaranda Retirement Village at the Goulburn Library on Tuesday.
The 353-page book tells the story of Peggy Smart, a 79-year-old widow in the retirement village. She’s “slightly fallen out” with her children over a minor traffic matter and feels they’re trying to take away her independence.
Life is a little “beige,” revolving around regular routines. She secretly fancies another resident, Brian, and a romantic candlelight dinner. It’s all going nowhere until Peggy’s childhood friend, the glamorous Angie Valentine turns up. Suddenly Peggy sets out on a journey of self discovery or, as Dr Nell puts it, “ageing disgracefully.”
It’s described as a funny and heartwarming tale of love and community.
Dr Nell said she was motivated to write the book after spending a great deal of time working in aged care facilities and in women’s health.
“I was inspired by the wonderful people and their stories. These are not places of doom and gloom but full of people thriving with life,” she said.
“I decided to explore what it would be like to be a woman at that stage of life.”
Dr Nell said her two leading characters came to life and “ran away with the story.”
“It was almost like they were telling me what to write,” she said.
“It’s about a lot of people I’ve met...I didn’t want to sugarcoat ageing but to say it shouldn’t be a barrier to a happy and full life.”
While the book also explores the challenges of ageing, it is ultimately a positive and uplifting story.
Some 30 people attended Tuesday’s talk, including some who travelled especially from Canberra for the event.
The work is published by Hachette Australia and is available for purchase as an e-book, hard copy or in audio form.
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