We are a society obsessed with staying young and beautiful and rarely does literature tackle the right to grow old and enjoy the process. A round of applause for Byrski.
The book is filled with some wonderful characters and the main protagonists are women in their 70s. I can honestly say I don’t think I have ever read a book with women of this age as the heroines.
Byrski has written five novels – Gang of Four; Food, Sex and Money; Belly Dancing for Beginners; Trip of a Lifetime, Bad Behaviour and a fabulous autobiographical work entitled Remember Me.
Her main characters are often women in their fifties or older. Her books strike a cord with women of all ages and her works are very popular amongst book clubs as they throw up a host of questions that are ripe for debate.
When in a woman’s life is it okay to look her age is just one of the many questions asked in Liz Byrski’s latest novel Last Chance Café.
In a society obsessed with youth and beauty where there is a constant battle against the aging process, Byrski’s novel is a welcomed breath of fresh air. It is filled with interesting female characters that are well beyond middle age but still achieving wonderful things in their lives.
Other questions raised include what does it mean to grow old and is it okay to celebrate old age with all the joy and challenges that come with it.
When seventy something Margot visits her local shopping mall (something she hates to do) to find something to wear to a family function, she unexpectedly comes across an old friend Dot. The fact that Dot has chained herself to the escalator travelling up to the floor where the beauty salon and spa are located and is ranting about the dangers of consumerism is nothing new for Margot as the two were part of a movement in the past where women did things like that on a regular basis.
It is just one of the themes that Byrski wanted to tackle when setting out with the novel – could the passion of the seventies and eighties be revived in the current world climate?
On her website introducing her new book, Byrski writes, “I started off by asking what happened to the spirit that, thirty years ago, had women of all ages working together for change – for themselves, their sisters, daughters and granddaughters, their mothers, aunts and grandmothers? Is it really dead or simply simmering beneath the surface?”
Dot and Margot reunite and the passion they had for the women’s movement is reunited through the younger people that they meet. Together they work on a campaign to fight the “new sexism” in the world. The scene where young girls are encouraged to dress up in bunny costumes and make-up and strut their stuff on the catwalk is enough to make any reader cringe.
Along the way the reader is introduced to family, friends, old loves and new. Each woman is dealing with some type of personal journey and Byrski’s writing allows us to see that age in no barrier and that you are never too old to begin a new life or take on a new challenge.
About Liz Byrski
Byrski has written six novel and her main protagonists are often women in their fifties or older. Her books strike a cord with women of all ages and her works are very popular amongst book clubs as they throw up a host of questions that are ripe for debate.
Born in London and raised in Sussex, Liz Byrski moved to Australia in 1981 and currently resides in Perth, Western Australia. She is the author of eleven works of non-fiction and six novels and has over forty years experience in the media.
She is best known for her novels: Gang of Four; Food, Sex and Money; Belly Dancing for Beginners; Trip of a Lifetime, Bad Behaviour and autobiographical work Remember Me.
Last Chance Café by Liz Byrski (Macmillan by Pan Macmillan, 2011, ISBN: 978-14050-40341, 352 pages.)
My rating: ★★★★