A Year of Mr. Maybes by Judy Leigh

Title: A Year of Mr. Maybes

Author: Judy Leigh

Published on: 29 March 2022

Genre: Women’s Fiction

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Rating: 5 out of 5.

Valerie sees her whole life coming down when she finds her husband of forty-seven-years in the arms of another woman. Ray said he will be in the pub for a pint while Val prepared the Christmas feast. But when Ray did not come home for lunch, Val went to the pub in search of him. She found him alright… in the arms of another woman. Val returns home, locks the door, puts the music on high volume and enjoys the Christmas feast. Alone.

The divorce was painful but it’s been almost a year now since the painful Christmas memory of last year. Val has moved to Lowenstone, a small town in the north coast of Cornwall with just two days left for Christmas. Val thinks she has to spend her first second Christmas alone when she hears a knock. It’s Connie, Val’s neighbor.

Connie introduces herself, the two women are almost of the same age – both in their early seventies. Val asks Connie to stay over for Christmas lunch and Connie agrees. Connie has been a widow for twenty years now. Her only son, Will is in New Zealand with his family. Connie repents for not being able to go to New Zealand to visit her son and grandchild. Somehow, she feels leaving Lowenstone would mean moving away from her late husband Mark.

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Val receives a call from her son Tom. Tom lives in Montreal and he has some news for his mother. He’s getting married to his girlfriend Lottie next Christmas. He tells her dad would also be there… with his girlfriend Monica (the woman in whose arms she found Ray a year ago.) Does Tom and Lottie have to specify parents only, no partners allowed at the wedding? No, that wouldn’t sound right, says Val.

When Val tells Connie about her son’s upcoming wedding, Connie suggests “Why not find Mr. December, a man – not necessarily a romantic partner – someone who can be Val’s plus-one at the wedding?” Val likes the idea. Both women get to planning. Connie suggests Val meet one suitable/prospective partner every month so that by the time it is December, Val would have found her plus-one.

First comes Mr. January, a dog-walker at the beach. Val never gets to talk to him until Summer though! Mr. February is Nigel, a flirtatious old man who has only one intention – to sleep with the women he dates. Though he seemed to be pretty gentlemanly type initially, his mask falls off on their first date and Val does not want to meet him again. But, they do come face-to-face throughout the story – and each time Val waves and smile at him, she receives nothing in return. The old man is certainly ignoring her!

Then comes Ollie, a young twenty-five-year old with Asperger’s Syndrome. Not really a plus-one material for the wedding, but he turns out to be Val’s good friend. Ollie’s grandmother is Loveday, a eighty-year-old woman who cleans the beach regularly. Loveday also runs the charity shop where Val’s neighbor Alice works part-time. Halfway through the story, we see Val too volunteering at the charity shop.

So on and so forth, Val meets a few prospective partners. Not one every month though. There is one Val forms a bond with. Will he be Mr. December? Only time will tell…

We also have Connie as an enthusiastic and caring friend. Connie has lived a life of recluse since her husband’s death. Finding a partner for Val makes Connie socialize and break away from the cocoon she built around herself twenty years ago. Loveday is a ‘save environment’ freak. Soon, Val, Alice, Connie and Caden (a young reporter at the Gazette) turn Loveday’s beach cleanup into a campaign and an event. This leads to further events and TV appearances and whatnot.

Throughout the story, we see Val change. From someone who lost herself after the divorce to someone comfortable with the ‘single’ status at seventy. Val makes friends though – the ones that stick to each other no matter what.

This was absolutely cute, sweet and charming story. I really loved the concept of finding one ‘possible partner’ each month and then finally deciding on THE one. I was telling my friend maybe I should try something similar. Although… I am not seventy nor am I looking for Mr. December. He can be a Mr. June too, you know. *wink wink* Okay, no more shop talk.

Connie says something to Val about finding a partner and this sentence reflected with me a lot. She says, “don’t find someone who can provide you with what you want; find someone to whom you can provide what they want.” It is so easy to make a list of things we are looking for in a partner, isn’t it? But thinking it from Connie’s perspective, making a list of what we can give to our partner – in terms of love, companionship, etc. – wouldn’t this be a better way to look at it?

A Year of Mr. Maybes by Judy Leigh was a charming and completely adorable story. I was on a mystery-reading-spree and this book was like a breath of fresh air. A nice change from murders, sleuthing and red herrings. 😀

As Loveday says ‘bleddy hansum’, A Year of Mr. Maybes is a bleddy hansum story. Highly recommended!

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