Thursday 3 December 2020


At nearly ninety, retired nature writer Hattie Bloom prefers the company of birds to people, but when a fall lands her in a nursing home she struggles to cope with the loss of independence and privacy. From the confines of her 'room with a view' of the carpark, she dreams of escape. 

Fellow 'inmate', the gregarious, would-be comedian Walter Clements also plans on returning home as soon as he is fit and able to take charge of his mobility scooter. 

When Hattie and Walter officially meet at The Night Owls, a clandestine club run by Sister Bronwyn and her dog, Queenie, they seem at odds. But when Sister Bronwyn is dismissed over her unconventional approach to aged care, they must join forces -- and very slowly an unlikely, unexpected friendship begins to grow...

Well, this is a book that really took me by surprise. Firstly, because I found the blurb so charming I really wanted to read it. And secondly, because it turned out to be great.

When Hattie Bloom ends up in a nursing home after a bad fall while trying to save an owl nest, all she wants to do is go home. Walter Clements has to stay in the nursing home after a serious car accident, and is also looking forward to going home.

But escaping the confines of this institution turns out to be a lot harder than either expected...

Well, this was such a lovely story! It's lighthearted and uplifting, but is also edged with a certain degree of sadness because it focuses on what ageing does to a person. If their body hasn't stopped responding properly, it's their mind failing.

It was also sad to read about how the elderly are often disrespected, disregarded and have their lives stripped away from them by rules and a list of safety targets that sometimes do more harm than good. Isn't it enough to have their bodies turn on them without adding more disappointment and hardship? 😞

The story is told in the alternating POVs of Hattie and Walter. Two characters who are very different, yet so alike. I adored Hattie's love for birds, nature and how much she values her solitude. So it was heartbreaking when it was taken away. And Walter, the oldie widower who tries too hard to be the funny guy and often comes across as annoying, sexist and arrogant. When he's simply a lonely man shaped by a society that quickly changed around him. Oh, and Murray is such a sweet old guy.

The Great Escape from Woodlands Nursing Home is a melancholy book that I enjoyed immensely. The pages are peppered with interesting characters, each with a tremendous amount of history that intrigued me so much I couldn't wait to read more. It's also a really fun tale that proves friendship, kindness and adventure can happen at any age and can change the system.

There's certainly a lot to love about this book.

Thank you Hachette Australia for sending me a copy! 

The Great Escape from Woodlands Nursing Home, November 2020, ISBN 9780733642869, Hachette Australia

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