Pan Macmillan $32.99
Review: Monique Mulligan
OUR society’s increasing, and worrying, tendency to revere youth, beauty and sex appeal above wisdom, graceful ageing and inner beauty is challenged in Liz Byrski’s latest release, Last Chance Cafe. A need to read and write books that reflect the dilemmas, demands, joys and satisfactions of women 50-plus has formed the basis of Byrski’s fiction writing career, and she has delivered another realistic and thought-provoking read, asking the question: “What happened to the spirit that, 30 years ago, had women of all ages working together for change?”.
In the ‘60s, Dot and Margot were staunch friends and women’s rights campaigners, but they lost touch when Dot took off to India. Years later, nearing 70, they meet again. While Dot is frustrated by the growing pressure on women to stay young and beautiful, while Margot has let marriage, motherhood, divorce and life overshadow her dreams. Her daughters, Lexie and Emma, are in their forties and have their own issues. Lexie has lost that job that has defined her for 20 years, while Emma tries to stay young and beautiful as a way of coping with abandoning her responsibilities. When a younger woman asks Dot to help her with an awareness-raising campaign about the sexual exploitation of children, one by one the women are drawn to the challenge.
This is an appealing and engaging novel that is spot on when it comes to the issues that older women today face, inwardly and outwardly, but also in making the point that life-changing decisions are not only made by the young.
A great read – give your mother a copy.
Available from good bookstores and Pan Macmillan.