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Mrs Winterbottom Takes a Gap Year

Mrs Winterbottom Takes a Gap Year

By Joanna Nellpaperback1 November 2023
$26.99RRP $32.99
or 4 payments of $6.75 with Learn more
Booklovers earn $1.30 in rewards
'Her latest novel is her best yet . . . a wonderful read about growing older and grabbing hold of life' Weekend Australian

'Heartwarming, tender and oh-so-funny' ALI LOWE

'Charming, funny and wise exploration of the pleasures and perils of retirement. If you want a laugh-out-loud holiday read that will make your heart swell, this is the book for you' TRACEY SPICER

'An intriguing, warm-hearted novel challenging age stereotypes' The Australian Women's Weekly

Husband and wife GPs Alan and Heather Winterbottom have worked side by side in their idyllic rural practice for over forty years but now they've decided to hang up their stethoscopes and retire. Joy! Celebration! Or not . . . Heather dreams of exploring the Greek Islands, of escaping the shackles of her routine life and embracing an exciting new adventure. Alan dreams of growing his own vegetables.

When things come to a head at a family lunch, Heather announces that she has decided to take a year off. From her old life, from her marriage - from Alan. Alone in beautiful Greece, Heather embarks on her very own odyssey - complete with unforgettable experiences, pitfalls and temptations. But could what's waiting for her back in Netherwood be Heather's biggest adventure yet?

'Warm, insightful and funny . . . celebrates, so well, the treasures that life's later stages can hold' DIANNE YARWOOD

'Takes the reader on a wholesome and hilarious journey from the organic garden beds of Dorset to the sun-kissed islands of Greece . . . this is a story that will leave you smiling' ALI LOWE

'It's a meditation on the meaning of love, and the ebbs and flows of relationships' TRACEY SPICER

'I loved taking a gap week from my life with Mrs Winterbottom. Nell's writing is delightfully funny and as heart-warming as a cup of tea' MEGAN ALBANY

'Engaging, funny and resoundingly human'


  • Title: Mrs Winterbottom Takes a Gap Year
  • Author: Joanna Nell
  • Edition: 1
  • Publisher: Hachette Australia
  • ISBN: 9780733649042
  • Length: 233.0 millimetre
  • Width: 153.0 millimetre


30/06/2023 11:43:57 AM - Marianne
Joanna Nell has yet to disappoint.
Mrs Winterbottom Takes A Gap Year is the fifth novel by best-selling Australian author, Joanna Nell. After forty years working together in the same East Dorset medical practice, GPs Heather and Alan Winterbottom could, on retirement, be reasonably expected to be in synch with one another. Heather is therefore disconcerted to learn that what she was most looking forward to, travel abroad, occupies a much lower line on Alan’s to-do list. Establishing a vegetable garden with the intention of self-sufficiency is what takes priority for Alan over something as frivolous as a trip to Greece. Feeling invisible, Heather watches with mounting dismay as Alan erects a greenhouse, builds garden beds, obtains tenants for his henhouse, exchanges their modern cars for a (virtually vintage) Land Rover, and throws himself wholeheartedly into the local organic gardening group. “She had an inkling now of how it felt to lose a loved one to a cult.” Finding it difficult to muster any enthusiasm for carrots and compost, Heather realises “They were so far from being on the same page, she doubted they were even reading from the same book.” Retirement has proven to be an anticlimax and “Heather felt as if she had lost her multi-tasking superpower on the day she left work.” She finds herself opting for a radical haircut, and makes a few other uncharacteristic choices. The death of her elderly friend and former patient, Esme, whose latest read had initiated Heather’s fascination with Greece, is the impetus for a declaration that has her family sharing concerned murmurs: Heather is going to take a gap year, in the Greek isles. She takes along Esme’s well-read copy of Homer, and Esme herself, trusting she will find the right place to scatter her ashes. Once on the island of Cephalonia, her intention is to immerse herself in Greek culture, to travel to the home of Odysseus, but in her first few days she has some hair-raising experiences which, somewhat surprisingly, don’t really phase Gap Year Heather quite like they might have worried Doctor Heather: it will be just another amusing story to tell. When she meets a Greek gentleman who lives on his yacht, a handsome, educated, charming and attentive man who finds her, a woman in her mid-sixties, attractive, she admits to herself that she is tempted. The connection she feels to this man, though, does have her considering just what it is she has with Alan: what they each now want seems to be so different, “promising to love someone forever - was that realistic?” But even Gap Year Heather will draw the line at infidelity, won’t she? She is loving the weather, the food, the scenery and the people and, yes, she misses her daughters and Alan although “A tiny piece of her wondered if she missed her dog more than her husband.” Obstinacy at the thought of cutting her trip short (she didn’t want to reach ninety with a bucket list of broken dreams) battles with a desire to compromise. Nell gives her cast of appealing characters wise words and insightful observations, but there’s also plenty of humour in what they say and do: Heather’s asides to Esme’s ashes are entertaining as are some mistranslations. For anyone married to a car or motorcycle enthusiast, the “best trousers” scene will definitely resonate. Her exploration of life after retirement will strike a chord with many of a certain vintage, but Nell also touches on topical themes: relevance as we age; sustainability; and refugees; ensuring a much wider appeal. Nell’s latest offering is laugh-out-loud funny but also thought-provoking, heart-warming and uplifting. Joanna Nell has yet to disappoint. This unbiased review is from an uncorrected proof copy provided by Hachette Australia.


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