Book Review: Away with the Penguins by Hazel Prior

Today I would like to bring you my review of Away with the Penguins by Hazel Prior.

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.

I’m sure that like me, you have seen this novel recommended everywhere! I was therefore determined to read this novel as soon as I could, and I was not disappointed!

Veronica McCreedy is an 85 woman, who lives alone in her large house, with only her housekeeper Eileen for company. She is stubborn, and she is most definitely set in her ways! She spends her days litter picking or watching wildlife documentaries, but as the days pass her by she realises that she has a significant amount of money and no one to leave it to when she dies. As her past seems to haunt her more and more, she looks to the future – one that she would really like to have an impact on, despite her advancing age. One evening, whilst upset that her beloved Earth Matters show seems have finished, she discovers a new wildlife show, The Plight of Penguins, presented by her favourite wildlife presenter Robert Saddlebow. What follows, is a journey of epic proportions. An elderly woman with a plight, a long lost Grandson, and finally, a colony of penguins in deepest Antarctica.

Away with the Penguins is a story about love and loss, but it is so much more than that. It is a story that shows us that no matter what barriers you find in front of you, they can be overcome. Mrs McCreedy is a very wealthy woman, and as we all know, money can indeed help make life a little easier. But that money did not stop her reaching 85 years of age all alone, with no one but her housekeeper for company. However, she does not let her age hold her back in her quest to help the penguins. Instead she goes on an actual quest, across land and sea, finding out more about herself whilst also cautiously letting others into her life.

This is such a wonderful novel – it was easy to get wrapped up in Veronicas story and empathise with her. She may have been an older lady set in her ways with a grouchy nature, but as you learn more about her you realise why she has shut herself away for so long. I also really enjoyed learning more about Patrick, which added such a beautiful element to the story as it unfolded. I am more than happy to recommend this novel – if it does nothing else other than make you want to pick up the phone and call your Grandparents if you are still lucky enough to have them, then it will have been a successful read.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Away with the Penguins can be bought in all good bookshops, but if you can support a local independent bookshop then please do.

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