I normally read fiction for young people, and fantasy or sci/fi, so this was a refreshing change for me, to read about a retired person in a novel both contemporary and literary. I loved this, as a well-written story which is all at the same time honest, vulnerable, moving and thought-provoking.
Jane Lambert’s quest for love and meaning in her later years is at times funny, and at others tragic. This novel is a glorious mixture of the realities of human life: joy and sorrow, laughter and tears, hope and despair, all within a context of caring friendships. Jane herself is a fascinating character, avoiding all the glib stereotypes about the elderly. She is unwilling to resign herself to a sad and lonely old age. She is determined to improve her personal situation in her sixties and seventies, and I found myself cheering her on.
The men that she meets through internet dating reveal the male half of the species in less than glowing terms, but by contrast her friendships with a family from her childhood, and with her work colleagues, show the very best that such relationships can offer.
Perhaps most moving of all for me is Jane’s deep attraction to the wonder, awe and mystery of religion (through paintings, statues and sacred places), but she finds herself unable to take that final step of faith for intellectual reasons. Jane is a committed Humanist, and although she can’t accept the Christian faith for herself, I think she still respects those who can.
For those in middle age or beyond, or those who want to understand this stage of life, I would thoroughly recommend the invitation implied within this story: to reassess our priorities in life while we still have the time to do so, and to focus our energies, attention and love on what really matters.
“Timed Out” is available through all good bookshops, or here on Amazon.