The Great Escape from Woodlands Nursing Home by Joanna Nell

‘At Woodlands, time moved differently for the staff and the residents.’

Two of the residents of the Woodlands Nursing Home, Hattie Bloom and Walter Clements, seem to have only one thing in common: neither of them wants to be there.  Hattie, who lived alone, was independent – until a fall.  Walter is just waiting until he can take charge of his new mobility scooter, and then he is heading home.  Walter, who sees himself as a comedian, is far too brash and loud for the very reserved Hattie Bloom.  Both dream of escape.

Then, on one restless night, Hattie learns about The Night Owls.  It is a clandestine club run by the wonderful Sister Bronwyn with the help of her dog Queenie.  Many of the residents of Woodlands do not sleep well at night, so the activities Sister Bronwyn oversees are welcome.  As is Queenie.  But shortly afterwards, Sister Bronwyn is dismissed.  Hattie and Walter would like to see her reinstated, and between them they work on a plan.  At the same time, Walter’s friend Murray is dying.  Can Hattie and Walter make his last days memorable?

This is a delightful novel, peopled with wonderful characters, facing many of the challenges that most of us will have (or acquire) some familiarity with.  ‘Never get old’, my late father-in-law used to say.  Unfortunately, if you live long enough, old age is inevitable.  But it need not be boring.

Will Hattie settle into life at the Woodland Nursing Home?  Will Walter ever get the keys to his Tesla mobility scooter?  And what about poor Icarus, the budgie?

I thoroughly enjoyed this novel.

‘Birds and humans alike needed to believe that things would always get better.’

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

Jennifer Cameron-Smith