I requested this novel on NetGalley and was lucky enough to receive an ARC copy! I read it in a couple of days and really enjoyed it; it was endearing and funny and full of heart.
The novel follows 15 year old Lizzie Vogel who, bored with school, decides to apply for a job at her local retirement home. Working at the home, she meets the wonderful residents and the (slightly) crazy staff. In her day to day life at the home she discovers what it’s like to care for the elderly (with all the sorrow and joy that that can bring), as well as deal with her larger-than-life family (who are so full of love for each other), whilst trying to stay on course to do her A-levels at school. Lizzie is such a wonderful character and I took an instant liking to her.
The novel itself is easy to read and entertaining, filled with quirky characters and little mysteries. At the start, though, I wasn’t quite sure how I felt about it. Nothing really exciting or fast paced happens in the narrative, which I guess is to be expected considering that it’s set in an old people’s home. But, pretty soon I started to really enjoy it. It made me laugh (a lot!) and I fell in love with the characters, particularly Lizzie and her mum (their relationship reminds me of my own relationship with my mother) and two of the residents: Mr Simmons (who doesn’t let old age get in the way of living a full life) and Lady Briggs (who loves books as much as I do).
It was also quite a personal read. I volunteered in a hospice for over a year when I was still living in London, and even though it was hard at times, I have many good memories of working there. So I very much sympathised with Lizzie when it came to dealing with the deaths of residents, and also understood the joy that can be attained through working in such a place.
So, all in all, I enjoyed Paradise Lodge (title is a play on Milton’s Paradise Lost by the way, if you were wondering). If you’re looking for a lighthearted, quick summer read, then I recommend you give this one a go!