“I didn’t want to believe that nothing happens by chance anymore; that magic is obsolete. Because things do just happen. Little miracles happen every day.”
Meet Jen. Flight attendant. Mum to a grown-up daughter. Permanently single.
Age: Fifty (gulp)
Number of children: One
Number of husbands: Zero (it’s complicated)
Number of failed first dates in the last month: Too depressing to contemplate
Number of tickets for a romantic, once-in-a-lifetime trip: Two
Number of days left to find her Mr. Right to take on holiday: Quickly running out…
I discovered Fiona Gibson last year when I requested her then upcoming novel – The Dog Share – on NetGalley. I loved how her protagonists, just under fifty years old, were not afraid to start over, even though they’d hit rock bottom. Seeing the title of her latest, I was intrigued to see what she was bringing next and I have to say I enjoyed this even more.
After nearly 30 years of working as a flight attendant with BudgieAir, a budget airline, Jen and her colleagues are made redundant. All she’s ever wanted to do was fly. That no longer being an option, she’s unsure what to do next.
Then there is the matter of the week long all-expense paid holiday for two to Santorini, Greece in the honeymoon suite of a spa hotel. She won it as a prize for selling the most BudgieAir mascots inflight and was hoping to meet someone special to take this holiday with. Now that she’s been made redundant, she has until the end of the year to redeem it.
Propelled by her daughter, Hannah, and her friends, she agrees to try out online dating because, as Hannah insists ‘No one meets in real life, Mum. It’s all algorithms now.’
Being unfamiliar with it, Jen has her share of hits and misses. Her interactions on maturematches.com are absolutely hilarious and she meets an interesting bunch of characters. She is wise enough to not expect complete honesty on their profiles but is upset nonetheless when a potentially promising candidate she meets offline turns out to be a dud.
I liked how the author did not make this all about the romantic liaisons but also about discovering new passions and grabbing hold of second chances. Jen takes up running and starts a new job that utilizes her excellent people management skills, honed from years of dealing with the crazy things people do when 30,000ft up in the air.
Her relationship with Rod, her daughter’s father, is delightful and one of the reasons I loved this book. There’s also Sally, the helpline lady, with whom Jen strikes up an unlikely rapport. The conversations in the book are ridiculously weird but could also be straight out of a day you may well be having.
In having a mature protagonist, the author balances the craziness with the need to reinvent oneself. Faced with an empty nest, a layoff and an ageing mother who, as Jen realises, is in need of round the clock care, Jen must redesign her life and her needs to fit these changes.
The author does away with the cliched ending and indicates a fresh start for Jen which I thought was wonderful. The epilogue, bringing everything together, seems propitious.
You could call this a rom-com but Jen’s story is so much more. Inspiration can be a revelation at any age and Gibson brings that here with a modern approach to internet dating and Jen’s renewed vision to life. She makes this relatable and entertaining in an unexpectedly heartfelt way, leaving you with a big smile on your face and a warm glow in your heart.
Book 12 of 2022.
Aquamarine Flavours Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟.
Available on Amazon*.
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