The Time Of Their Lives by Maeve Haran talks about four old friends face divorce, unemployment and competition from younger women as they embrace life in their 60s with vigour and humour.
Ella, Claudia, Sal and Laura have been friends forever. They meet regularly in a local bar The Grecian Grove where nymphs and satyrs frolic on the walls and the wine slips down easily. Now they are in their 60s life is throwing up new challenges but they face them all with the vigour and humour they always did.
Last year Hilary Boyd's word-of-mouth bestseller Thursdays In The Park woke publishers up to the fact that there was an overlooked market of older readers who wanted intelligent well-written novels with characters and issues they could relate to.
Now Maeve Haran sixty-something and author of the ground-breaking nineties blockbuster Having It All has got in on the act with this delightful take on the enduring power of female friendship. If 60 is the new 40 then this is the new chicklit.
So we have: Ella a widowed lawyer who worries she might have dementia and whose daughter has her beady eyes on her £2 million home to pay school fees; feisty career girl Sal dumped by her magazine finds unemployment is not the biggest hurdle she faces; teacher Claudia is ousted by a techno-whizz younger colleague while her husband looks up old girlfriends on Friends Reunited and Laura, lovely pretty home-making Laura, finds her entire married life has been a lie when her angry belligerent husband leaves her and the children for a younger woman and her manically ticking body clock.
Haran, 64 now herself, is good at creating characters we care about. We all know people like these four, we might even have something in common with them ourselves, but it is the optimism and valour with which these women face their challenges and discover new pleasures that makes them worth caring about.
And she keeps it real — no abseiling or scuba-diving in a desperate attempt to prove they can keep up with the 20-year-olds. As they meet life (and death) head on and embark on new adventures they demonstrate beyond doubt that there is life in the old girls yet.
Anyone who still thinks 60 is the age at which you swap your stilettos for flats needs to read this funny feisty novel. Anyone who's already there will welcome these women into their own circle of friends.