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Thursdays in the Park by Hilary Boyd

Thursdays in the Park

by Hilary Boyd

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1396127,505 (3.49)7



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3.5 stars ( )
  CommunityLibrarian | Nov 26, 2015 |
Oh Jesus, make it stop.
Reading this is like literary waterboarding, with slurry.
It’s worth noting that this edition at least had 1.5 line spacing, so it’s actually a slim novel.
Better still if it had been anorexic.
The first page has a husband criticising his wife because she drinks too much. Certainly reading this book drives one to the booze, so actually being a character in it would inspire a terrible thirst one would imagine.
So far, so formula, the reader gets all of two thirds of the way down the first page before wondering when the first vicar is going to pop up. In that at least, the book does not disappoint (page three, in case you were wondering).
Full disclosure: writing this review was something of a challenge, as the most straightforward way of conveying my opinion of this book would to be to take a well-used carpet knife and gouge the words ‘THIS IS SHITE!’ into the cover of the book.
Then smear it with excrement.
Then torch it.
I freely acknowledge that this is an over-reaction. There is no place for the exclamation mark in any considered review.
So just how bad is it? Let me express it this way. If the Taliban’s media strategy had been to post one of their trademark fuzzy, foam flecked rants on Youtube with some bearded arse pointing to a copy of ‘Thursdays in the park’ and screaming ‘this is where educating females to write gets you’, and not ‘let’s shoot schoolgirls’, then I’m not saying anyone would be any more accepting of their wicked message, but maybe, just maybe, they’d be playing a little less dodge-the-drone every time they popped out of the cave for some fresh milk.
This is a sad, unhappy and deeply cynical book.
Why cynical? The author has clearly thought carefully about the demographic of her readers and how to convey that her principal character is successful and affluent. Hence, early on, it is established that the main character’s kitchen has Bosche appliances and is decorated with National Trust paint. Mid-range appliances and a paint brand more associated with heritage and tea shops than actual decoration sends a message alright, and that message is ‘the author looked round her kitchen and described what she saw’. It’s cynically judged to appeal to people who either want it confirmed that they have achieved the sort of middle-class life that they read about, or who aspire to owning a Bosche cooker and decorating with National Paint. It’s also not right. Affluent people who live in leafy suburbs of London have Agas and decorate with Farrow and Ball paint.
Sad and unhappy because it’s full of sad and unhappy characters. Everyone in this book is, to a certain extent, sad and unhappy and that includes, by about page seven, the reader. The principal character is unhappy because her husband has moved into the spare bedroom and won’t explain why. Her daughter is unhappy because her husband is annoying, the husband is unhappy because he is an unappreciated artist, the bloke the principal character meets in the park is unhappy because, oh, I don’t know, either he’s a widower or allergic to trees or something.
There are a couple of toddlers involved.
In fairness, they are not unhappy.
But by Christ they’re irritating.
The toddler also provides the plot driver for the Great Peado Scare.
It has a plot so formulaic that this novel could have been packaged not so much as an e book but rather a powerpoint slide at the sort of desperate conference held at a hotel chosen for its convenient transport links rather than its beauty, where the chef is on the run and the rest of the staff are hoping to be deported back home any day now.
Positives? Well, it’s quite short, and it confirms all the prejudices one might hold about the sort of people who frequent health food shops, but essentially it’s an exercise in grinding frustration unhappy married to a failed attempt at being a novel seeking to examine the relationships of family life across generations and the effect dramatic change can have on what are thought to be certainties. ( )
2 vote macnabbs | Oct 8, 2014 |
If you get nothing else from this book. Think about this quote from the main character's Aunt Norma:
"Sixty is heaven," she had told Jeanie as they sat having tea."The world is done with you, you become to all intents and purposes invisible, particularly if you are a woman. There's childhood, then adult conformity---work, family, responsibility---then just when everyone assumes it's all over and you're on the scrap heap of old age, freedom! You can finally be who you are, not what society wants you to be, not who you think you ought to be." ( )
  debnance | Sep 25, 2014 |
A novel about a woman who begins a love affair at sixty: new literary phenomenon? Invention of a new genre? Well ...

Although I'm not yet (anywhere near!) 60, I wondered what all this 'gran-lit' stuff was about, and thought I really ought to read it. Well, it's the very definition of a 3-star rating: it's OK.

There's a rather cosy, middle-class setting, peopled with characters you know already, because they're the sort of characters who appear in novels like this: financially secure but personally flaky north London types, apparently happy but (oh, I get it!) only apparently so.

The central character, Jean, is 'old' only in the sense that she has has a grown-up daughter and she's been married to the same man for 32 years, but of course she's really just your common-or-garden chick-lit heroine (of the bitter-sweet, rather than the rom-com variety; mental age about 24), but, hey, it says here she's celebrating her 60th birthday.

There's clock symbolism, and the birth of new life, and the year fading before beginning again, etc., etc. Jean risks her marriage, returns to it, leaves it, doesn't know what to do, makes a decision, regrets it, comes to terms with it, misinterprets something - oh no! - but - phew! - the misunderstanding is cleared up, things turn out for the best, all will be well. At least we hope so, for, never forget, this is real life, and who can tell?

In spite of a couple wobbly moments (I laughed out loud at the epiphany on the bench, and I don't think I was meant to), this is by no means a bad yarn, indeed I rather enjoyed it.

It's just no big a deal. ( )
  jtck121166 | Jul 13, 2013 |
Thursdays in the Park will always allow me to savor the weekday of Thursday with a smile. Hilary Boyd, the author, wrote a page-turner, keeping me up until 1 AM. I expected this tale to go into a place I didn't approve of in my mind, but as the story developed, it was exactly as I would have wanted it to be.
Emotional abandonment, flirtations, in-law problems, growing older and feelings of powerlessness are all issues many of us face yet have no guidelines to determine our next course of action. Ms
Boyd allowed these conflicts to be faced and dealt with by Jeanie,George and those affected, and the reader will find that what one may do in a situation is totally different than what another person would do. The author presented problems, and then allowed the reader to ponder what the outcome would be. It made for a very deliberate way to pull the reader forward to the next page.
The only negative thought was how passive Jeanie's approach to life was with her dictating family always telling her what she should do for their peace of mind, not hers. This always bothers me in real life so reading it stirred up some angst; the author cleverly, pages later and at the end, made everything work out the way in a surprising way. I highly recommend this book and found it to be one of the few that made me think about choices we make and theeffect on others. For those who think life is over at 60, read this book and re-evaluate your thinking; buying and reading this book will stir all of your emotions. ( )
  bakersfieldbarbara | Jun 14, 2013 |
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Jeanie is on the brink of turning sixty. When her husband George retreats from his conjugal duties, she is deeply hurt and very confused: Has she done something wrong? Is he in love with someone else? Her pained bewilderment turns to anger as he remains unable, or unwilling, to provide answers. The bright spot of Jeanie's week is Thursday, the day she takes her granddaughter to the park. There, one day, she meets Ray--age-appropriate, kind-hearted, easygoing, and sexy, everything that George is not. As her relationship with Ray begins to blossom and she begins to think that her life might hold in store a bold second act, she begins to wonder if she has the courage to take a step off the precipice of routine and duty and into the swirling winds of romance.… (more)

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