Books & Literature

Book Review: Confessions of a Forty-Something, by Alexandra Potter

CONTEMPORARY FICTION: When Nell’s business goes bust and her relationship with it, her happy-ever-after life falls apart and she moves back to London to start over.

A perfect reminder in an ever-changing time of uncertainty you are not alone.

Nell Stevens’ has it all, a handsome fiancé, successful business and a sunny Californian lifestyle. Her life is on track for a happily-ever-after until everything falls apart and she is forced to fly home to England and start over.

Feeling like a complete failure – even worse, a forty-something failure – Nell is surrounded by friends that have the perfect Instagram lives: wealthy husbands, beautiful kids and gorgeous homes. Finding herself too poor to rent on her own, she is forced to rent a room from a highly-strung stranger and take a job writing obituaries. Her life is a dull as the English winter she’s now living in.

Things start looking up when she meets the fabulous Cricket, an eighty-something widower with challenges of her own. It’s through writing an obituary for Cricket’s late husband that they strike up an unlikely friendship and help each other navigate through heartache and their new positions as single women in a society that favours couples.

Nell becomes determined to turn her life around and truly find herself before the year is through.

Let’s face it, 2020 has been an uncontrollable rollercoaster for a majority of us. We are surrounded by bad news on TV, pressure from social media to make the most of our time in lockdown (#bakingqueen #blessed) and none of our usual face-to-face social interactions to keep us sane. So when I read the description for this story I was immediately drawn to it. A woman navigating her way through a sudden change to the life she had planned, trying to find herself and learn to stand on her own… it sounded like some much-needed inspiration and it didn’t disappoint.

This isn’t a fluffy tale of romance masked as self-discovery. It’s an honest, messy and realistic portrayal of a women trying to find what makes her happy in a world that tells her she can’t be happy unless she’s married, a mother and still maintains a size six body (who could imagine that kind of pressure right?).

Nell felt like the perfect best friend to get me through the hard times. She calls out the ridiculous social media pressure to be happy all the time and live the perfect life, navigating her way through life’s hurdles with humour, honesty and empathy.

From the moment I picked up the book until the very end I had mixed feelings about how I wanted the story to end. I didn’t want this to be another story about a women finding her way, only to throw out everything she learnt the moment she found herself in a relationship, or a story where the relationship was the end game and everything else was just a filler. I was impressed with the writing style of Alexandra Potter and the way she navigated Nell through her story. The ending was the perfect conclusion which enforced the lessons placed throughout the story for Nell’s character development.

Confessions of a Forty-Something is the perfect reminder that it’s okay to make mistakes and have no idea what you are doing. But most importantly it’s the much-needed reminder in an ever-changing time of uncertainty that you are not alone. We are all in this together.

Reviewed by Jessica Incoll
Twitter: @littlejadventur

Distributed by: Pan Macmillan Australia
Released: April 2020
RRP: $29.99

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