Book Review for “The Highland Hens” by Judy Leigh.
Summary: “In the imposing Glen Carrick House overlooking Scotland’s famous Loch Ness, lives eighty-eight-year-old Mimi McKinlay, cared for by her three adult sons. Hamish has inherited his mother’s musical talents, Fin is the responsible brother, and Angus has the complicated and brooding personality to match his dashing good looks. But what all the brothers share is a concern that their beloved mother is living in her memories of her days on stage, while letting her present days pass her by. Jess Oliver is at a turning point. Amicably divorced after years of being married, this trip to the Highlands is a first taste of independence. It isn’t long before the beauty and hospitality of Scotland captures her heart. When Mimi and Jess’s paths cross, a friendship is formed that will change both women’s lives. And as together they find ways to look forward instead of to the past, long forgotten dreams are within reach, and every new day is fresh with possibilities.”
Age: Adult; Genres: Literary, Women, Fiction; Settings: Contemporary; UK – Scotland – Loch Ness and surrounds; Other Categories: Novel, Romance, Humor.
As I’ve said before, as a woman of a certain age, I really can appreciate novels about other women of a certain age, and my go-to author for these is absolutely Judy Leigh. I’m just thrilled that I discovered her books for many reasons. First, because there’s romance in these books, but it isn’t the type of overwhelming stuff with the heavy angst that young people seem experience in novels. Also, I love reading about older women letting loose and enjoying life and not caring what people think, especially those who are retired like me. Well, okay, sometimes they get embarrassed about some things, but that’s only natural. In addition, and most importantly, Leigh writes with such adoration of her characters that readers can’t help but love them as well.
Now, my regular readers know that I’m not an animal person (heck, I’m not much of a people person, either), so when an author describes something not-so-nice happening to a family pet, and I get choked up about it, you know that they’re doing something right. If that wasn’t enough, I was smiling throughout reading this story, especially at the antics of Mimi Solitaire. Mind you, although you get the feeling that Mimi might not be totally sane, but then she has these times when she feels her age, regrets the life she used to have, and you can’t help feeling for her. However, as for the young(ish) Jess (in her 50s), this is a woman who hasn’t really lived life much, and as much as I liked her, for all she did for Mimi, I didn’t identify with her as much as I might have. Still, that didn’t stop me from having some emotional connection with her, so that’s a good thing as well.
But probably the reason why I enjoyed this novel so much was the sights and scenes of Scotland, and in particular around Loch Ness. You see, my husband and I spent 10 days living at a B&B almost exactly in the same spot where the home of the McKinlays is located – Drumnadrochit, right on Loch Ness. That was such a lovely vacation, although we were there in August (with the midges), but I’ll never forget it! Reading this book really mad me want to go back, to see it in the spring or the autumn, or even in winter. I kept imagining where I would visit, how I would travel around, what sights I would see. I realize that I’d probably have to rent a car, so I’m thinking right now with fuel prices as they are, it might not be such a great idea in the near future. Still, this novel really put the Scotland bug into my head, and my heart. So, as you can see, I really need to get back there again.
You know, I have to say that I think this very well could be the first time I’ve read a novel where reading it has given me the urge to go visit the location. I mean, yes, I’ve read lots of books located all over the world, but this time, since I know it already (not just from that one vacation). That’s certainly something for which Leigh deserves kudos. Now, I should mention that I wasn’t too terribly surprised by the various romantic elements (Leigh did leave some pretty large breadcrumbs), but I can’t say that this bothered me much. For all this, I think this is another one of those books that I’m wholeheartedly recommending for some good fun and lovely characters, and stunningly beautiful vistas! Yes, she made me laugh, but she also made me cry – and not just over that animal! That means I really can’t give it less than a full 5/5 stars!
Boldwood Books released “The Highland Hens” by Judy Leigh on August 4, 2022. This book is available (via the following affiliate links) from Amazon, Foyles, The Book Depository UK and Book Depository US (both with free worldwide delivery), Waterstones, WHSmith, Wordery UK and 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.