TITLE : Away With The Penguins
AUTHOR : Hazel Prior
GENRE : Women’s Fiction, Contemporary Fiction, British Literature
FR RATING : ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐( 4.5 – 5 Stars)
DATE OF PUBLISHING : October 22nd 2020
DISCLAIMER : Thank you, Netgalley and Random House UK, Transworld Digital for providing me with an ARC of this book. I am leaving this review voluntarily.
Away With The Penguins by Hazel Prior fascinated me from the get-go. Something about this book pulled me in. The title and the synopsis hooked me when I read them. I loved the illustrated covers, as well. I was also intrigued by the penguins and how they fit in with the story. When I picked this book up, I had no idea I will be gobbling up the whole story in one sitting. It was that good.
Away With The Penguins is a beautiful book of friendships, family, second-chances, and healing. It tells the story of our two protagonists, a grandmother, and her grandson, who meets for the first time very much later in life. The story unfolds from the dual-perspectives of Veronica and Patrick. Veronica is living a solitary life at her mansion in Ayrshire. A box from the past brings back memories that threaten the unraveling of secrets long buried. A walk through her past life takes Veronica on a journey of discovery. She finds out she has a grandson and decides to make his acquaintance. The initial meeting leaves them both disappointed. Patrick has been living a carefree life free from the stresses of adulthood. He is living life aimlessly, taking one day at a time and in no hurry to change the Status Quo. The two meet and decide that getting to know one another is not a good idea. Veronica is searching for a cause to champion and comes across a documentary on Penguins that will stir up her interest. She wants to leave a legacy that will be worthwhile and accepts that her grandson is not the right candidate to be left with her money. A trip to Antarctica to see the research center for Penguins will change her life in ways she never envisioned. Patrick also finds himself changing, and life will take them on a journey either of them expected.
The setting is beautiful, with the story taking place in different locations, taking us along for the ride. The change of scenery was good, and I enjoyed how each location beautifully complimented the progression of the novel. The pacing was great, and I found myself unable to stop. And the writing is engaging and humorous with a fabulous cast of characters. The story is full of life and warmth that will seep into your soul. Its characters especially, the main characters with their quirkiness and eccentricities, will steal your heart.
The message of this book is also thought-provoking. With a strong emphasis on nature and the environment, Hazel has managed to deliver a story with lots of heart and charm wrapped up in a beautiful package of preservation of our environment. The way everything ties together beautifully helps immensely.
I loved how Hazel has managed to craft the novel around Veronica, the cute and cranky granny. She has a heart of gold and gruff exterior, often keeping people at arm’s length. Her curmudgeonly demeanor paired with her love for animals and her need to save the environment makes us want to champion her cause and cheer her on. Her character is layered and we get her backstory, through her diary entries. These will make us fall in love with her and empathize with her.
Patrick is also an interesting character. He is carefree and is pretty aimless when it comes to life. The guy is humble, down to earth, and funny. He is vulnerable and so sweet that you will want to hug him. His past and his experiences in life have shaped his view of the world. The lack of confidence and his need to please others, combined with awkward social skills, makes for a difficult life. But he cruises through it without complaint, being there for people he loves. He is an endearing character and needs a gentle push now and then. His interactions with Veronica were funny, and you will fall in love with their dynamics.
The best part of this book was the penguins. I love them and have always found them to be cute. But this has managed to skyrocket the level of their adorableness. The orphan penguin Pip is such a lovely character that I was oohing and aahing the entire time I was reading his scenes. I kept on saying Awww every time he was on the scene. The research that has gone into bringing the details of the life of penguins is also remarkable. I enjoyed the small, tight-knit group of scientists who came together to raise the baby penguin. Pip brings them all together and succeeds in creating a sense of family and friendship within the group. If you didn’t love penguins before, I guarantee you will fall hopelessly in love with them after reading this book. The heart of this book is penguins, and it was such a joy to read about them.
Overall, the story was beautiful, well written, and wonderfully packaged. The readers will leave with their hearts full and a smile on their faces after reading Away With The Penguins. The heartwarming and charming story of a grandmother and her grandson reuniting will stay in my heart forever with the backdrop of penguins. I never thought I could fall more in love with penguins, and the author has proved me wrong. After reading the book, I have this longing to visit Antarctica and see the beauty of penguins and learn more about them. The author’s passion and love of the environment shine through the story. The sharp contrast between human and penguin life is equally inspiring and uplifting. If you love animals, enjoy reading about cute, ornery grandmas and penguins, this is a book you need to pick up. Away With The Penguins tells us the story of survival, succeeding against all odds, reuniting with loved ones, and second-chance at life. I gave the book 4.5 – 5 stars. I highly recommend picking this book up, if you want a charming and heart-warming story.
Veronica McCreedy is about to have the journey of a lifetime . . .
Veronica McCreedy lives in a mansion by the sea. She loves a nice cup of Darjeeling tea whilst watching a good wildlife documentary. And she’s never seen without her ruby-red lipstick.
Although these days Veronica is rarely seen by anyone because, at 85, her days are spent mostly at home, alone.
She can be found either collecting litter from the beach (‘people who litter the countryside should be shot’), trying to locate her glasses (‘someone must have moved them’) or shouting
instructions to her assistant, Eileen (‘Eileen, door!’).
Veronica doesn’t have family or friends nearby. Not that she knows about, anyway . . . And she has no idea where she’s going to leave her considerable wealth when she dies.
But today . . . today Veronica is going to make a decision that will change all of this.