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on 20 November 2011
There is little I can add by way of plaudits for this book which I have enjoyed enormously, even though that seems a rather odd thing to say considering it's about the break up of a long marriage. But it's eloquently written and with wry humour, and if I had been married to a George for more than 30 years and met a gorgeous Ray, then I'd have been in the park every day!

By coincidence, there was a feature on this morning's Breakfast TV programme, about how 60-somethings, especially the women, are the largest age group filing for divorce. Perhaps once retired and without the diversion of work some women (and men, of course) suddenly realize that the partner they have been with, and had children with, for decades really aren't the the people they wish to spend the rest of their lives with.

Fortunately, I don't fall into this camp, but that didn't prevent me from empathizing with the heroine of this lovely novel and her break for freedom.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 14 October 2016
I own almost all of Hilary Boyd’s books but the newly reissued Thursdays in the Park is the first one I have read. The story inside is just as appealing as its beautiful new cover, and I spent a lovely afternoon reading this book with no intention of putting it down until I’d reached the end.

Jeanie and George have been married for thirty years, but George is hiding something. It’s the reason they haven’t slept in the same bed for a decade, but Jeanie has given up trying to work out why that is. The highlight of her week is spending time with her granddaughter Ellie. Every Thursday, they head to the park. And this is where Jeanie meets Ray…

I think it’s apparent almost right away that George is no good for Jeanie, at least not anymore, whereas Ray is kind, thoughtful, fun and exactly what Jeanie needs after over a decade of settling for a life which if she was honest, doesn’t do a lot for her. I really enjoyed this theme to the book. Jeanie, at sixty, is torn between these new feelings she has for Ray and her marriage to George, but throughout all the years before meeting Ray, she hasn’t really entertained the thought of leaving her husband and it is realistically put across that other people, her friends and family, would also think it strange for a woman of ‘her age’ to leave George. A new romantic chapter in her life seems an alien concept, but Jeanie is sixty, not dead, so why shouldn’t she hope for something more?

Thursdays in the Park is a gentle, romantic and immensely warm novel. The story is sweet but also very engaging and it was easy to become wrapped up in the newfound romance between Jeanie and Ray. I loved both characters. Jeanie was made easy to care for. I didn’t find it too surprising that she hadn’t demanded more answers from George over the years, as she seemed to want to avoid an argument at all costs. I could also understand how she was still with him, as it was not really the done thing to leave a marriage when you’re that age. However, mostly I wanted her to follow her heart, not her head, and bring an end to her marriage to George if she found that really, she wanted Ray instead…

There’s that big stereotypical belief that older people desire companionship, not romance, but I think why should anyone settle for second best when something better is right in front of them? And why can’t somebody have both the romance and the companionship? Jeanie’s character represents that people in their sixties can fall in love again. They may be judged for that, but throughout the course of the book I was rooting for Jeanie to finally be free from George and to let herself fall for somebody else.

Ray’s character was lovely, but also interesting. I was fascinated by the story of his previous relationship and loved how it was written. How, again, something frowned upon by many people is not always as immoral as it may seem. I may be in my twenties but I found both Jeanie and Ray wonderful characters to read about, and credit to the author’s style of writing which drew me in to the story straight away.

There were a couple of parts to this story that I didn’t like quite so much – like every time Ellie’s parents Chanty and Alex were involved. I couldn’t warm to them at all and I didn’t particularly enjoy reading about them, not because I didn’t like them, more because they were quite infuriating. Whereas George, who I also didn’t like, was still an interesting character to read about and also of course an integral part of the story. I also found that Jeanie and Ray’s romantic meets were my favourite part to the book and so probably preferred the beginning and middle of the book more than the back and forth ending.

However, overall I found Thursdays in the Park to be a touching and believable story about falling in love. The struggles in the romance are relatable for people of almost any age, as is the theme of living the life you want rather than the life society expects of you. This was an extremely heart-warming and entertaining novel and has me looking forward to tucking into some of the author’s other books in the near future.

(review copy)
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on 24 March 2014
Thursdays in the park.

I confess I only bought this because it was 20p & has been on my kindle for months as I didn't think it was my thing.
How wrong I was!

Thursdays in the park takes you behind the doors & into the relationship between George & Jeanie.

We watch as the couple approaching retirement view their world & role in society. We see the devastation of how gentle control & manipulation accepted by one individual from another can grow & spread until it becomes normal.

We watch as that unhealthy norm is seen by others as normal also & can be adopted in your children.

I was intrigued by how easily it was accepted without fight or anguish, ... until that is ... another way of life is shown through love.
And that's what this is about .. love... & being treated lovingly.

They say love is blind but in this case it's the opposite, here love is what opens the eyes & sees the dysfunction of the many forms of love & how they're packaged, used & abused, aided & abetted, accepted & owned.
We see also how secrets buried deep affect the ability to give love as well as receive it.

I'm not a romance reader & usually find novels along these lines tedious & petty, yawn yawn, where's the sick bag, but this gripped me & I felt for Jeanie. She's not a feeble pushover, she can see the issues, but manages them as part of life.

I loved that at 60 life can begin again & become beautiful for all involved & the author had made this a realistic scenario.
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on 30 May 2013
I liked that the heroine was an older lady but that was about it. What an utter, utter sap she was, drifting along passively allowing her husband, daughter and son in law to control her. ALthough being moved from a huge Highgate house to a Somerset mansion isn't exactly suffering, and I'm not surprised George just went ahead and moved her because poor old Jeanie was hardly able to offer an opinion on the weather let alone tell her husband she didn't want to move. And the fact he just cleared off out of the marital bed with hardly a whimper from her - it is the 21st century, she grew up in the sixties, really is it possible to be that repressed? She managed to blurt out to a stranger that she hasn't had sex with her husband for 10 years though! To sum up, Jeannie is a passive wimp who has had everything provided for her but is still a misery, husband is supposed to be a control freak but if he hadn't taken charge I don't think Jeannie would have moved if she were on fire, best friend totally annoying know all "darling", grandaughter a spoilt nightmare and not at all appealing and needs some speech therapy, daughter (Chanty?? what??) more selfish than her mother but the same passive victim, love interest (ha ha) Ray a creepy weirdo. I gave this two stars because of attempting a love story for older people and because I did actually finish it, but I shan't be buying anything else by this author even if it is only 20p in the kindle store.
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on 31 December 2017
I'd had this book downloaded on my Kindle for ages, think originally as a recommendation. So glad I chose the Christmas holidays to read it as it is light and airy but a good read that just flows so easily. Made a refreshing change that the main character Jeanie is 60 rather than the usual 20/30s of books I read. Some very good twists and turns in her life all around her family and the man she has met in the park. Loved the ending. Will be exploring other books by Hilary Boyd now.
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on 17 November 2012
I loved this book and couldn't put it down. It's a very well-written page turner and, being over 60, I could identify with the main characters and the emotions described. I would recommend it whole-heartedly. I read it after hearing the author interviewed on the "Today" programme on BBC Radio 4.

I was however appalled when I searched on the Web about its background to find some really snide and unpleasant articles about the book, written by young or middle-aged people who obviously hadn't actually read it, calling it things like "granny porn". It certainly isn't porn and the sex scenes are really restrained. What seemed to upset the authors of the pieces was the concept of "geriatrics" having happy and fulfilled sex lives - as if this was somehow unnatural and revolting. (Perhaps this has something to do with the taboo of imagining one's own parents having sex.) Various writers had strained to use phrases that they had obviously thought up in advance without any reference at all to the book itself, along the lines of "a mixture of the Kama Sutra and the Antiques Roadshow". Well, ha ha ha... very clever, but completely meaningless.

I look forward to Hilary Boyd's next book.
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on 8 May 2014
Oh this was just wonderful. I had just finished reading an absolutely absorbing thriller and needed something light and feel good to bring me back to earth. This was the perfect antidote. I virtually read it in one sitting, only sleep intruding and demanding I close my weary eyes.

There is the lovely Jeanie who has been married to the very (dare I say it) boring George for 32 years. (After 22 years of marriage George had withdrawn into another bedroom without any explanation to Jeanie). Their daughter, Chanty, is married to Alex and they have a 2 year old daughter, Ellie, who is the apple of Jeanie's eye. As Chanty works during the week and Alex works from home as a painter, Jeanie takes Ellie to the park every Thursday where she strikes up a friendship with the very wonderful Ray and his grandson, Dylan.

Jeanie has her own health food shop, which she is absolutely devoted to, and when the very controlling George decides they are moving to he country and she should give up her shop, Jeanie is thrown into turmoil. She often confides in Ray on their weekly Thursday meetings and their friendship deepens.

The rest is how Jeanie 'finds' herself and her desire to not be manipulated by George and ultimately Chanty.

This is just a great feel good book and I can highly recommend it.
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VINE VOICEon 14 February 2013
An innocent meeting whilst taking her granddaughter the park leads to a life changing experience for Jeanie.

Jeanie is in fact not happy; she has her health, lovely honest friends, a beautiful granddaughter and her health food shop. But something is missing, and that something is actually still there. Her husband George has decided that as her 60th birthday approaches Jeanie `the old girl' needs to move from the city to the country, give up her work, playing tennis, socialising and retire.

Jeanie does not want to do any of these things. She says so on more than one occasion but no one seems to be listening. Not her daughter who is trying to hold together her own personal life and certainly not her husband. But the stranger in the park does listen, even when she admits the most intimate of secrets; her and husband have not had sex for 10 years. Not through her choice but a decision made by her husband - with no discussion. Jeanie wants discussion she wants to understand. George cannot do either of these things.

A lot happens to Jeannie and there is never any discussion. But with the stranger in the park on a Thursday, Ray, there with his grandson and issues of his own something starts to happen and Jeanie sees what she may well have been missing for the last years. Meeting Ray has brought to the surface all the unspoken problems. And there is that something that Jeanie does not have with her husband; discussion.

Events take over and Jeanie still with no discussion is effectively bullied and manipulated by George up to the point where you think that this is not a story which will have a happy ending. Only by carrying on will you find out whether Jeanie and George can discuss themselves out of the corner they have both backed themselves into.

This is the first book I have read by Hilary Boyd and was pleasantly surprised by it. The characters drew me in so quickly, I wanted to scream at George who kept calling Jeanie `old girl' all the time the patronising insert your own descriptive expletive at this junction. His inability to not listen was so frustrating. Her daughter Chanty, was rather self-centred and absorbed in her own life and her relationship with Alex as toxic as her parents but she was never going to see it. Only does a drastic incident with her daughter make Chanty see that perhaps you have to look much deeper about someone. Alex and Jeanie brought the rather predictable dislike of son in law/mother in law interaction and could have gone many ways I would never have predicted the events that took place, handled effectively by the author.

A rather good absorbing read which I devoured pretty much in one sitting. Initially being very skeptical because I bought it for 20p and thought that it was a reflection of the book and the writing - certainly not. If you want to move away from the flighty, vacuous women that inhabit some women's fiction books then this is a book which will restore faith. Ultimately a romance with a few suspenseful twists along the way.
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on 10 February 2013
I've been looking at this book for some time--it's received a lot of positive comments from reviewers and has been riding high in the Kindle bestseller list. I'm probably not the intended demographic for the book but I have to say, I found it to be an extremely well-written and enjoyable tale.

The story follows Jeanie who is married to controlling yet vulnerable George. Out of the blue, George leaves the marital bed, permanently. After attempts to get George to tell her what the problem is, she becomes resigned to her lot, until, that is, while taking her granddaughter to the park, she meets Ray who is doing the same for his grandson. She soon begins to live for #Thursday afternoons and her relationship with Ray deepens.

As previously mentioned, this is extremely well-written, reminding me very much of Joanna Trollope's style of writing. The characters feel real and sympathetic. Although not liking some of their decisions, most of the characters at least had enough redeeming qualities to make me care about them and to hope things turned out well for all concerned by the end of the book. It was really interesting to read a romance featuring older characters with the extra elements this brings to the story. It is impossible not to sympathise with Jeanie's situation as she feels she is being treated differently just because she is reaching her 60s and that she isn't being listened to either by her husband or her daughter. Boyd convincingly portrays the effect such a situation would have on the characters and, although quite predictable, the book was nevertheless an enjoyable read and an absolute bargain at 20p on kindle.
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VINE VOICEon 21 February 2013
I enjoyed this easy to read story about a woman who turns 60 and discovers love and passion which contrasts to her lifeless marriage. I wasn't overly impressed with the way the book tackled the subject of child abuse, but I thought it had a lot of good points.

I did like the protagonist Jeanie and found myself rooting for her and her happiness throughout the book. I thought Ray was a lovely character albeit one dimensional. I think there has been much criticism of the book about it's orthodox portrayal of women but real life is more unpredictable than books and many women, even in this day and age in good old Blighty do live in oppressive marriages and say nothing.

I found Jeanie's best friend Imogen very annoying. I don't know why, but I didn't like this character at all but it didn't detract from my overall enjoyment of this book. It made me cross when Chanty (what sort of name is that anyway!) kept defending her father and overlooking her mother's needs and right to happiness, but I can see it was in keeping with the passive role Jeanie had put herself in throughout her marriage.

George needed help and it's a shame the book didn't show him getting that help but I suppose it isn't a self help book or a book advocating good mental health and it wasn't about George in that respect it was about Jeanie making choices for herself.

People of all ages are human with human feelings of passion, lust and the need to be loved. It's a simple concept which I think the book discussed quite admirably.
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