Book Review for “A Year of Mr Maybes” by Judy Leigh.
Summary: “Val didn’t expect to be starting again in her seventies, but when life gives her lemons, Val is determined to make lemonade. Settled into her new home – a picture-perfect fisherman’s cottage in the small Cornish seaside town of Lowenstowe – Val is ready to start a new chapter. And with her son due to get married next Christmas, there’s also the little job of finding herself a plus-one to help her face her ex-husband and his new girlfriend. With the support of her neighbour Connie, and after decades of married life, Val takes the plunge back into the world of dating with trepidation and excitement. But can she remember how the single life works, let alone what her type is? There seem to be plenty of Mr Maybes, but no sign of Mr Right. As the year passes, and as friendships and community life flourish, Val begins to blossom. And as Christmas approach, she might just decide she doesn’t need that plus-one after all – although never say never…“
Age: Adult; Genres: Women, Fiction; Settings: Contemporary, UK – Lowenstowe (fictional), Cornwall; Other Categories: Novel, Romance, Humor, Literary, Coming-of-Age.
Yes, I’ve said that I’m not into romance novels, but after reading Leigh’s previous book, when I saw this on NetGalley I just couldn’t resist. You see, Leigh’s books about women of a “certain age” are terribly attractive to me these days. Not only do they allow me to see something of myself in them, but I also get something light and fun to read, which is a lovely break from having so many WWII novels on my TBR list. As they say “girls just wanna have fun” and Leigh’s girls… er… women, seem to have so much of that. Plus, I think there’s nothing wrong with a little romance, as long as it doesn’t come with all the bodice ripping that typical romance novels contain, and I also appreciate that these are women who aren’t solely centered on getting their man to the exclusion of everything else in their lives.
Mind you, the whole concept of this novel is for Val to find someone to be her plus-one at her son’s wedding, so she won’t be on her own while her ex-husband Ray is with his new girl Monica. Now, you must admit is a little bit of a twist on an old trope, but Leigh really knows how to spice it up and throw us a whole bunch of red herrings to keep us interested, as well as guessing what will happen next. In fact, the reason why I’m not calling this a romance novel is because, although there’s no small amount of romance here, it really isn’t about the romance, but about Val and how she copes with the first year of being on her own, and in a new place. I’m thinking this is actually a coming-of-age story, which I believe is what Leigh had intended.
You see, as the year goes on, we slowly see how Val moves from being just an older woman tossed aside by her husband and left to flounder on her own, into a strong, independent, self-sufficient person who has started to discover who she really is, and what she really wants out of her life. Here she is, in a new home and a new town, meeting new people. That’s a scary thing to do under the best of circumstances, but when you’re essentially in mourning for a relationship that lasted 47 years, that’s even harder. What Leigh does to keep this from being a crying-fest is to get Val involved in people outside her own new four walls. Furthermore, Leigh also throws in some social activism to get Val busy with something other than trying to find a date to take to her son’s wedding in Canada. I was happy that the cause Val got involved with was the environment, and cleaning up the town, because that’s something I’m also passionate about. (Maybe people like me and Val lean towards that because our lives have been messy.)
In any case, while this book didn’t make me cry, it certainly had me smiling throughout, and Leigh even had me laughing out loud a few times, so that’s a great sign. I also loved how Leigh brought in all the other characters (and there are quite a few), where each one was unique and had their own contribution to Val’s growth as a person. Mind you, some of the pairings felt a touch overly convenient, and therefore also slightly unlikely, but that’s the only drawback. All told, this was just a delightful novel, that was heaps of fun, and which also pointed out some sights in the Cornwall area that I’d really like to put on my bucket list (like The Eden Project, and The Lost Gardens of Heligan, both of which sound magical). I think this is a wonderful novel, and I’m looking forward to reading more of Leigh’s books. I’ll strongly recommend this with four and a half stars out of five.
Boldwood Books released “A Year of Mr Maybes” by Judy Leigh on March 29, 2022. This book is available (via the following affiliate links) from Amazon, Foyles, The Book Depository UK, Book Depository US (both with free worldwide delivery), Waterstones, WHSmith, Wordery UK, Wordery US, Kobo US (eBooks and audiobooks), the website eBooks.com, Booksamillion.com, iTunes (iBooks and audiobooks), new or used from Alibris, used from Better World Books (promoting libraries and world literary), as well as from as well as from Bookshop.org and UK.Bookshop (to support independent bookshops, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic) or an IndieBound store near you. I would like to thank the publishers for sending me an ARC of this novel via NetGalley.
This novel qualifies for the following reading challenges: New Release Challenge (#12).