away with the penguins book review

Away with the Penguins by Hazel Prior – Book Review

JessMarch 15, 2021

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Rating: 4 out of 5.

Veronica McCreedy is about to have the journey of a lifetime . . .

V\eronica 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.

If you are in need of a book which feels like a warm hug, then I cannot recommend Away with the Penguins enough. This is a heart-warming and life affirming story that will leave you feeling all kinds of cosy. With its far away setting it is also the ideal option if you fancy some escapism to boot.

We predominantly follow the story of Veronica McCreedy, a lady in her eighties who is seriously no-nonsense. As the story progresses we begin to understand that Veronica is deliberately keeping the people in her life at arm’s length and we jump back in time to discover why. We also follow another character; Veronica’s recently discovered grandson. It is through a diary which Veronica sends to her grandson that we, as readers, get to delve into Veronica’s past.

This is a moving, unique story with a lovely theme at the centre. The writing style is extremely readable and although it touches on some hard topics it does it in a way which works, and keeps the book feeling fairly light. The cute penguins are a wonderful addition too. I won’t say that I went as far as googling flights to Antarctica but it certainly peaked my interest!

The only reason this book wasn’t 5 stars is because I didn’t love the second POV as much as Veronica’s (I couldn’t even now tell you the name of the grandson without looking it up) as it felt a little forced but I really enjoyed reading both the present and the historical elements of Veronica’s story. She was gruff and to the point but there were many moments which also made me smile. We also meet a handful of side characters who brought just the right amount to the story without being overwhelming.

Sure, this book was a little twee in places, but it was a quick read that definitely left me with the warm and fuzzies. If you enjoyed Eleanor Oliphant then I think you would also like Away with the Penguins.

If you want to see me chatting through all the books I read in the month of January then you can find my full reading wrap up here and for more cosy book inspiration, check out my 5 recommendations for books to read this winter.

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