Funny and Astute: Review of Sixty Summers by Amanda Hampson

Funny and Astute: Review of Sixty Summers by Amanda Hampson

She would give anything to feel… that charge of energy, optimism and lightness she’d felt back then… She’d felt free and brave and strong.’

If you like stories about friendship and you’ve ever longed to recapture a time in your life when you were completely free, no plans, no responsibilities, the future still an unwritten chapter, then Amanda Hampson’s new book, Sixty Summers, is for you.

Forty years since they first met and became firm friends, Maggie, Fran and Rose are feeling restless, disenchanted. Whatever happened to their youthful dreams and ambitions, to the three young women who took off to Europe in a Kombi van?

Life is what happened. Marriage and children back in Australia for Maggie and Rose (with varying degrees of success). Fran who has never married, stayed on in London and is living with the less than ideal Louis. During a once a year Skyping session to celebrate the anniversary of their friendship, it becomes apparent that everyone, Maggie especially, is discontented with their current lot. This sparks an idea: why not leave it all behind and go on the road again together, to travel around Europe, back to the places they visited on their first trip?

If the first trip marked the end of the first quarter of their lives, this one will mark the end of the third quarter. ‘We have to do something,’ reasons Rose. ‘Reassess. Not just plod on until we die.’

Once dis-entangled from their current lives and commitments – not easily done – they take off together. Three great friends on the road again, eager to re-live a magical time in their younger lives and come back inspired and rejuvenated.  As the book blurb asks, ‘what could possibly go wrong?’

A lot, as it turns out. Maggie is clearly troubled. Adventures are hard to come across.

The spontaneity of hitting the Autobahn in a Kombi has been replaced by a sedate travel itinerary with bookings in B&Bs. And true independence and disconnection proves elusive. Back in the day they never heard the news or received emails or phone calls. Now, the problems of the world and those of their own families, have pursued them. ‘It seemed there was no escape.’

And of course, although their lives have changed greatly since they first met, they haven’t changed that much, so the trio find themselves trapped in the same conversations and the same conflicts they had 40 years ago.

Only when an unexpected event steers them off course and they find themselves in trouble, backs against the wall, does the journey of self-realisation and reassessment begin. There are adventures and startling confessions. Wet feet. Hunger. A near fatal incident. And for each of them, an honest reckoning.

Amanda Hampson’s writing comes alive with her characters and dialogue. Funny and astute, her observations on friendship, the two sides of family life – the joys and the slavery – ageing and regret, are spot on, especially for boomers. And for those of all ages who need to be reminded about the cost of always compromising our dreams and the importance of doing what makes us truly happy, Sixty Summers is the wake-up call we all need.

About the author: 

Amanda Hampson grew up in rural New Zealand. She spent her early twenties travelling, finally settling in Australia in 1979 where she now lives in Sydney’s Northern Beaches. Writing professionally for more than 20 years, she is the author of two non-fiction books, numerous articles and novels The Olive SistersTwo for the RoadThe French Perfumer and The Yellow Villa.

Buy a copy of Sixty Summers here.

Related Articles

An Exquisite Exploration into Memory, Imagination and the Books that Shape us: Read a Review of Storytime by Jane Sullivan

News

12 August 2019

An Exquisite Exploration into Memory, Imagination and the Books that Shape us: Read a Review of Storytime by Jane Sullivan

    One of the Best Thrillers of the Year: Read a Review of State of Fear by Tim Ayliffe

    News

    6 August 2019

    One of the Best Thrillers of the Year: Read a Review of State of Fear by Tim Ayliffe

      An Excellent Tribute to a Fascinating Australian Figure: Read a Review of Major Thomas by Greg Growden

      News

      6 August 2019

      An Excellent Tribute to a Fascinating Australian Figure: Read a Review of Major Thomas by Greg Growden

        It is Heartbreaking, and Beautiful: Review of Confession with Blue Horses by Sophie Hardach

        News

        23 July 2019

        It is Heartbreaking, and Beautiful: Review of Confession with Blue Horses by Sophie Hardach

          Australian to the Core: Review of Taking Tom Murray Home by Tim Slee

          News

          23 July 2019

          Australian to the Core: Review of Taking Tom Murray Home by Tim Slee

            Wonderful. A Real Treat: Review of The Shelly Bay Ladies Swimming Circle by Sophie Green

            News

            23 July 2019

            Wonderful. A Real Treat: Review of The Shelly Bay Ladies Swimming Circle by Sophie Green

              A Highly Entertaining Debut: Read a Review of The One by Kaneana May

              News

              23 July 2019

              A Highly Entertaining Debut: Read a Review of The One by Kaneana May

                A Nail-biting Thriller: Read a Review of Karin Slaughter's The Last Widow

                News

                15 July 2019

                A Nail-biting Thriller: Read a Review of Karin Slaughter's The Last Widow

                  Romantic, Clever and Thought-provoking: Review of Nailed It! by Mel Campbell and Anthony Morris

                  News

                  15 July 2019

                  Romantic, Clever and Thought-provoking: Review of Nailed It! by Mel Campbell and Anthony Morris

                    Topical, Gripping, Perfectly Paced: Review of The Rip by Mark Brandi

                    News

                    10 July 2019

                    Topical, Gripping, Perfectly Paced: Review of The Rip by Mark Brandi

                      Synopsis

                      Life is too short for compromise …When Maggie, Fran and Rose met in their youth, they had dreams and ambitions. Forty years later, the three friends are turning sixty, each of them restless and disenchanted with their lives.Fran works in a second-hand bookshop. Her lover, one of a long line of disappointing men, is drifting away and her future is uncertain.Maggie married into a volatile family. Her beautiful, indulged twin daughters are causing havoc and her elderly mother-in-law has moved in and is taking charge.Rose has been an off-sider for her hopelessly vague but academically brilliant husband and their two sons. Time is running out to find and fulfil her own ambitions.In an attempt to recapture the sense of freedom and purpose they once possessed, they decide to retrace the steps of their 1978 backpacking trip through Europe and set off an odyssey that will test their friendship, challenge their beliefs and redefine the third age of their lives.
                      Amanda Hampson
                      About the author

                      Amanda Hampson

                      Amanda Hampson grew up in rural New Zealand. She spent her early twenties travelling, finally settling in Australia in 1979 where she now lives in Sydney's Northern Beaches. Writing professionally for more than 20 years, she is the author of two non-fiction books, numerous articles and novels The Olive Sisters, Two for the Road, The French Perfumer and The Yellow Villa.

                      Books by Amanda Hampson

                      COMMENTS

                      Leave a Reply

                      Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

                      1. stell says:

                        Love all of these wonderful ideas Better Reading send I have read so many great books that otherwise may have slipped under the radar. Thank you.