For fans of: A Man Called Ove and Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine
I read this book as it was the January pick for Beth’s Book Club and I’d heard good things from other bloggers so I was excited. Veronica is eighty-five years old; she has no family and her only ‘friend’ is her helper Eileen (who never shuts the door behind her and is too nosy for her own good, according to Veronica anyway). But when a mysterious box and a long-lost grandson find their way back into Veronica’s life, something sparks inside her, and she is determined to live one last adventure before she dies. Having recently been intrigued by a penguin documentary on the TV, Veronica makes it her mission to visit the Adélie penguin research facility in Antartica and see for herself if it is indeed a good enough cause for her to leave her millions to when she’s gone.

In terms of the penguin part of the story, as much as it was painfully far-fetched, I loved it! Who wouldn’t love what was essentially part David Attenborough documentary, part cute friendship story? Terry was a really likeable character and her upbeat and chirpy personality completely juxtaposed Veronica’s icy, curt one which made their exchanges all the more interesting.
As I said before, I didn’t quite fall in love with this in the same way I did with A Man Called Ove, but it was certainly a compelling and likeable story. Mostly humorous and quirky, this story also provided a glimpse into the past and uncovers pain and hardship experienced by the older characters which the younger characters find hard to fathom. A cute, fun, and life-affirming read!
“There are those who make the world worse, those who make no difference and those who make the world better. Be one who makes the world better, if you can.”
7.9Loveable, Compelling, Life-affirming
As a protagonist Veronica is very much like Ove from Fredrik Backman’s A Man Called Ove. I don’t think Prior quite achieves the same empathetic love that Backman does with Ove, but she certainly comes close. As the novel progresses, your impression of Veronica slowly thaws until the very end where I’m sure she evokes a lot of sympathy and love from all readers. I do think that Patrick was more implausible than Veronica – Prior created a character she wanted to make seem like a deadbeat, but the fact he’s clearly very skilled at fixing things, and a good friend too, meant the characterisations she’d made for him didn’t quite fit with the character in my opinion.

Title: Away with the Penguins
Author: Hazel Prior
Type: Fiction
Published: 2020
Pages: 389
TW: Loneliness, forced adoption, death

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Review overview



The narrative of Away with the Penguins flips between Patrick (Veronica’s grandson) and Veronica herself; I enjoyed this, and while its hardly a groundbreaking technique, for this story I felt it was necessary in order to discover more about Veronica’s life as she was clearly not willing to divulge that information herself.

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