THE BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL by DEBORAH MOGGACH.
(Now a major movie starring, amongst others, Judi Dench, Bill Nighy and Celia Imrie - click HERE for trailer)
Enticed by advertisements for a newly restored palatial hotel and filled with visions of a life of leisure, good weather and mango juice in their gin, a group of very different pensioners leave England to begin a new life in India. On arrival they are dismayed to find the palace is a shell of its former self, the staff more than a little eccentric, and the days of the Raj long gone. But, as they soon discover, life and love can begin again, even in the most unexpected circumstances.
......... Outer back cover.
FIRST SENTENCE (Chapter 1): Muriel Donnelly, an old girl in her seventies, was left in a hospital cubicle for forty-eight hours.
MEMORABLE MOMENT (Page 13): ...... Last week he set fire to the kitchen. He was boiling up his revolting old hankies in my Le Creuset saucepan, nearly burned the house down.
MY THOUGHTS: Still not too sure what to make of this.
Wonderfully vivid, it had me laughing in places, and feeling depressed in others but mostly it left me feeling strangely unsettled.
A story about a motley crew of English senior citizens who, for a variety of different reasons, decide to move to India to spend their twilight years in what turns out to be a somewhat dilapidated 'retirement hotel'.
Very depressing in places - the author pulls no punches in painting a bleak picture of what life is like for many of the UK's ageing population and India, though for different reasons, fares little better.
Still, it's not all gloom and doom.
Peopled by a wonderful array of characters who range from the merely eccentric to the totally 'batty', the antics of these pensioners had me quietly chuckling to myself - the antics of the impotent Norman, though ultimately sad, being nothing short of hilarious.
Perhaps a little too realistic in places. I know that realism perhaps dictates that people of these characters generation were not quite as sensitive to those of other races and though it was done in an almost tongue in cheek kind of way and some would argue it was necessary I couldn't help but find the almost casual racism of some of the characters a bit disconcerting.
Be warned The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel was previously released as These Foolish Things.
KEEP IT OR NOT?: A newspaper freebie, I payed only for the packaging and postage, I shan't be keeping this.