Not all marriages end in happily ever after…
In their youth, lovebirds Elizabeth and Ray had to fight to be together. Their future was full of promise and, blessed with children and careers, their happiness complete. But a twist of fate changed their lives forever.
Now in her sixties, Elizabeth is desperately lonely. She rarely sees her two adult sons and her closest friend is a talkative budgie. But when her grandson, Zach, gets into trouble with the police, she decides to take him on a road trip to find his grandfather, her lost love Ray, in the hope of mending their broken family.
Two less compatible travelling companions would be hard to find, as they set off on an unlikely adventure into the wilds of the northern NSW hinterland. What they discover along the way, about Ray and each other, has the power to transform them all. In trying to save Zach, Elizabeth might just save herself.
Amanda Hampson has carved out a niche for herself delivering excellent, complex and highly realistic stories for older women. Lovebirds captured me right from the start, with protagonist Elizabeth heading off to the funeral of her lifelong best friend, Ginny. I was so deeply moved by this part of the book. Hampson astutely captures how profound these female friendships are, what a dreadful loss a friend’s death can be, and also how without the friend there linking you to her family, you somehow drift around the edges with no real place to fit. Elizabeth’s grief, heartbreakingly and hilariously expressed through her pet parrot, is the catalyst for a much bigger journey in this lovely novel – one where she goes in search of herself and to reunite her fractured family.
We’re introduced to Elizabeth as a prickly woman in her sixties. A letter left behind by Ginny suggests that this temperament has developed over time and needs to change. The use of flashbacks as the story progresses introduces us to a younger Elizabeth and the key moments that shaped her into what she is today.
By the end of Lovebirds, I was cheering Elizabeth on, in her relationships with her family – particularly grandson Zach and ex-husband Ray – and in her relationship with herself. In the final pages of the book, there is one event that had me sobbing, and one line in particular that is so heart-wrenching, I read it over and over.
Warm, witty and wise, Lovebirds is an astute and uplifting novel about the power of love and family. I love that older women are so beautifully portrayed in novels now, and Amanda Hampson leads the way.