The tale starts off a bit slow, but accelerates quickly, and Tappenden, a former graphic designer and principal lecturer at the University for the Creative Arts, proves adept at genuinely surprising plot twists, particularly at the book’s conclusion. Rich prose (“He had gawped at the huge open studios bathed in northern light, reeking of turpentine and the fat richness of oil paint”) invites the reader into a sensual, colorful world, and Tappenden’s expertise on art and design lend gravitas to his Alex’s musings on artists and his passion for the medium.
Perhaps the most refreshing aspect of the novel is Tappenden’s realistic take on geriatric dating, with the inevitable and completely believable worries about body image and performance anxieties. Readers of a certain age will certainly empathize with frank descriptions of sags, bags, and wrinkles. And while second chances in both life and love are a well-worn trope, Tappenden navigates them with relative ease, especially when sharing Alex’s inner dialogue (“Am I supposed to feel like this? A geriatric James Bond?”) and Samantha’s mourning of her younger body. Readers who enjoy their romances on the quirky side — and who want to believe in love at all stages of life — will find much to relish in this insightful tale.
Takeaway: This decidedly British second-chance romance will charm fans of love in later life.
Great for fans of: Elizabeth Berg’s Never Change, Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows’ The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society; Helen Simonson’s Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand.
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: B+
Kirkus online review
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