Saving Missy by Beth Morrey

‘If you really want something, you hang on.’

Millicent (Missy) Carmichael is nearing 79 years of age, lonely, and alone.  Her son Alistair and grandson Arthur have just returned home to Australia, she doesn’t have much contact with her daughter Melanie.  Missy had devoted her life to her husband Leo and her children.  Now she has time on her hands, and nothing much to do. Alone in her home with memories, Missy decides to venture out to the park. A chance meeting (or two) changes Missy’s life.

Missy meets two women and a small boy.  And gradually, her life changes.  Missy discovers that she does not have to be alone, that others welcome her into their lives.  But Missy feels guilty about something that happened a long time ago, and she’s also ignoring some practical concerns.

So how can Missy be saved?  Meet a dog named Bobby, a kind and talented woman named Sylvie, Angela and her son Otis.  Gradually Missy’s story unfolds: we learn of her past, of life with Leo, of the sacrifices she’s made.  And in the present, we watch her reclaim life.

‘So here we are: the old biddy, the single mother, the superhero and the adopted mongrel, on our way to see my daughter marry her girlfriend.’’

This is Ms Morrey’s debut novel, and it touches on several of the issues that will become real for many of us as we age. ‘Never get old’, my later father-in-law used to say.  Unfortunately, the alternative doesn’t appeal.

I enjoyed this novel, and while the ending was a little too neat it was still very satisfying.

Note: My thanks to NetGalley and HarperCollins Publishers Australia for providing me with a free electronic copy of this book for review purposes.

Jennifer Cameron-Smith