Virginia Ironside’s novel, No! I Don’t Need Reading Glasses (Quercus £14.99) about a 65-year-old granny who belongs to a local residents’ association and does a fair bit of knitting may not sound like the most alluring reading. Then there’s the title — facetious and forgettable at the same time. It would be less embarrassing to ask for something saucy at the chemist than to enquire after this at your local bookshop.
Don’t be put off, though, because Ironside knows what she’s doing. Her heroine Marie Sharp may be an OAP, but as her name suggests, there’s nothing muted about her.
Written in the form of a diary, Marie’s year includes a face-lift, a spate of eco-activism, a trip to New York, a crush on a man some 20 years her junior and an intake of wine far in excess of government guidelines. There’s something funny on every page.
A running joke is Marie’s political incorrectness: ‘Am I the only woman on earth who finds women vicars a bit creepy?’, she wonders. She sneaks into next door’s garden under cover of night to get rid of their annoying wind-chimes, blithely sells a valuable brooch given her by an old flame as soon as he gets Alzheimer’s and, with a sigh of relief, fries bacon for a midnight sandwich after giving dinner to a pair of gay vegans.
Witty and affectionate, wise but never pious, this is a delightfully irreverent look at growing older.