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No! I Don't Want to Join a Book Club: Diary of a Sixtieth Year Paperback – March 25, 2008

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In her first American release, London journalist Ironside slices through the hullabaloo about reclaiming youth. On the cusp of 60, Marie begins keeping a diary, and the approximately 18 months' worth of entries that make up the narrative offer blunt appraisals of the state of the world, matters of health and family, and the good and bad aspects of the Internet age (cut and paste is good; booking travel online is bad). The major development is the thrilling news Marie's going to be a grandmother, and plenty of smaller crises, squabbles, life events and drama are contributed by her posse of goofball pals. Widower Archie, whom Marie had a crush on when she was a teenager, is still around, and Marie's friend Penny is on the brink of a fling with a man 30 years her junior. After grandson Gene is born, Marie, of course, fawns over him, though that happiness is mitigated by a friend's illness. Both humorous and poignant, this will appeal to its target boomer demographic and should pull in a few younger readers as well. (Apr.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Marie Sharp is about to turn 60, and unlike many of her peers, she has no interest in taking up paragliding or living for three months with a Masai tribe in Africa. She's intent on accepting this new phase of her life, which brings with it the freedom to do old things, such as getting a pension and free prescriptions and, as her neighbor helpfully points out, "tekkin' it eezee, man." Marie, in fact, has such an easygoing attitude toward aging that her friends are constantly inviting her out to dinner and on vacation. She's also excited about becoming a grandmother and babysitting for her grandchild, who has "the air of a very clean goblin" given to "laughing rather inappropriately." And though Marie has declared herself done with romantic entanglements, there's a very kind old friend, recently widowed, who has a crush on her. For Marie, old age is looking pretty wonderful. Ironside is pretty wonderful herself, offering a witty and, at times, poignant depiction of the challenges and freedoms that come with getting older. Joanne Wilkinson
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Plume; Reprint edition (March 25, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0452289238
  • ISBN-13: 978-0452289239
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.5 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (69 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #318,888 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

66 of 68 people found the following review helpful By E. Bukowsky HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on April 24, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Londoner Marie Sharp is the irascible and sarcastic narrator of "No! I Don't Want to Join a Book Club," by Virginia Ironside. Marie is a retired art teacher who lives alone and is about to turn sixty, an age that she embraces eagerly. The book, in the form of a diary, gives cranky Marie a forum in which to record her daily activities, thoughts, social encounters, and especially, her gripes. She has a great many gripes. She detests being told that sixty is young, and that it is the perfect time to go to university, try bungee jumping, and learn a new language. Why bother to learn a new language when you will have so few years left in which to speak it? What's great about being old is that it is too late to do much of anything. How liberating!

Marie can be nasty when she chooses, but she has a soft side, as well, which she is reluctant to show. She cares for her family and treasures her circle of friends. Although she has sworn off men, there is a small part of Marie that still years for male companionship. She is a multi-faceted individual: hilarious, profane, critical, and outrageous, but also kind, compassionate, and loving.

"No! I Don't Want to Join a Book Club" is touching, witty, and often lyrical. It is a cathartic reading experience for those who are sick and tired of being pigeonholed because of their age. Old people come in all shapes, sizes, and dispositions. They may choose to vegetate or to stay active, to fuss about their health or to ignore it, to bond with friends and family or to retreat from society. There is no one-size fits all rule book for aging.

Ironside's secondary characters include assorted "girlfriends," a gay couple facing a medical crisis, a former crush whom Marie still fancies, and her adorable new grandchild. Marie faces grief, joy, and the inevitable changes that life brings with self-confidence, uncompromising honesty, and a down-to-earth sense of proportion that may stem from, well, growing old.
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32 of 32 people found the following review helpful By bookloverFLA on May 6, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Finally a book I can read without wanting to throw it at the wall. I can't tell you how many books (new pubs)I've started and put down because they were just awful.

This one is real with good writing and even though I'm not almost 60-something it was highly enjoyable.

It didn't even have the requisite (lately) graphic sex scene, thank God.

When Hugh Grant gets to be 59 he can play Archie.

I'm not a great reviewer, let those who can write write. Just get the book and read it.
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By ndenim on May 28, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
diary of a woman, Marie Sharp, celebrating the pleasures of finally being 60 and all the perks that go with having arrived. The author even has a new acronym to go with it: SWELL (Sixty, Well Off and Enjoying Life). No bungee jumping, adventure travels or book clubs for Marie. She just wants to savor 'acting' her age and spending time with her first grandchild. This diary of her 60th year begins shortly before her 60th birthday and continues into the summer of the following year. Marie and her friends are a lively group and it is a pleasure spending time with them. An added bonus is that Marie lives in London and it is fun reading about her journeys around town. While this book is fiction, there is a lot of wisdom included as Marie shares her thoughts with us about the joys of being true to ourselves and where we are at in our life as she gracefully (yeah, right!) ages. Marie is feisty as can be and asking no forgiveness for it as age has its privileges. And, to add to the fun, she has decided that another advantage of age is to embrace celibacy -- so much less stress in her life not worrying about the dating scene. Not wanting to tell all, you will have to read the book to find out the ultimate resolution. This book needs a sequel. Recommended.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Persephone on August 20, 2008
Format: Hardcover
This book is smart, sassy, and amusing, just like "Bridget Jones". (Do the British have a monopoly on this sort of writing?) Being of a similar age, I found the author covered many of the requisite topics and in many cases did so with good insights. However...the main character, aka the heroine, seems to have no visible means of support, and to do absolutely nothing, more like an 80 year old than a 60 year old. Nothing, that is, but socialize with her friends and take care of her grandchild. Although the author covers serious subjects, her conclusion, that all can be solved by the birth of a grandchild to 'fall in love with' and the possibility of a romantic relationship with an attractive man, was a real copout. It conjured up visions of those dreadful ladies with their 'Ask me about my grandchild!' bumper stickers, and the love-hungry vulnerable widow in "The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone."
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Mom of Sons VINE VOICE on October 29, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Celebrating age 60, what a delightful concept! I'm 52 so I'm boning up now, and this book about a few steps along the way in the aging process was fun to read, and informative too, although I won't go into gorey details here! I would have given it 5 stars but she spends too much time for my tastes going on and on about her little baby grandson, Gene. That doesn't thrill me when it's someone next to me at a dinner party, and it didn't thrill me here. Other than that, I really enjoyed and would definitely recommend this book.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Book Goddess on March 10, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Some books expand our horizons by taking us far away, in time or space or situation. Others shed a light on the place where we are.

One of my favorite recent reads is No! I Don't Want to Join A Book Club: Diary of a 60th Year by Virginia Ironside. It so happens that several of my friends will turn sixty this year, or in the next year or two. A few have already done so. So I do have an interest in this age group. (The Book Goddess is timeless. Don't ask.)

This novel falls into a category that the British do extremely well: the humorous fictional diary. If you liked The Adrian Mole books by Sue Townsend or Bridget Jones's Diary by Helen Fielding, and you're, let's say, aware of the passage of time in your life, I think you should hurry up and read this book.

The heroine and narrative voice of this saga is Londoner Marie Sharp, retired art teacher and single mother of a grown son. As she approaches sixty, she strongly resists the urging of her friends to take up a hobby, enroll in university courses, or learn Italian. She's about to become a grandmother, one of her oldest friends seems to be seriously ill, and another has taken up online dating. These events, along with bunion surgery and renting her spare room to a young French girl, are inspiration for witty, sometimes hilarious, sometimes poignant commentary.

I don't agree with all of her choices, though I think she's right about bungee jumping (and we even wear the same brand of comfortable shoes). I, on the other hand, would love to take classes and learn Italian, and you know how I feel about book clubs. But the important point is that she's not letting other people tell her how she ought to feel or live or conduct her life, and she tells us about it in a lively and assertive style. The book is a delight, and I think you will love it, too.
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